Dancing in my Nuddy-Pants. By Louise Rennison. Piccadilly Press pound;6.99. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants.
By Ann Brashares. Corgi pound;4.99. Born to be Bad Bad, Badder, Baddest. By Cynthia Voigt. Macmillan Children's Books pound;4.99 each.
Bend it like Beckham. By Narinder Dhami. Hodder Bites pound;4.99
Georgia Nicolson is back, in the last of a quartet of novels that have been tremendously popular with teenagers all over the world. Having been underwhelmed by the Angus, Thongs phenomenon for a long time, I must admit to being won over. It's hard to keep a straight face in the teeth of a gale of exuberance and inspired silliness.
This time, Louise Rennison's sense of fun and the ridiculous had me in stitches, and she has a clever way with cats. Angus is a wonderful creation and his relationship with the dogs next door is almost the best thing in the novel. What happens to Georgia boils down to which boy she ends up with, but that doesn't matter.
The book, like the ones that preceded it, is written in diary form, which is like hearing a monologue in your head. It's jolly and enjoyable and bound to be as big a success as the others.
Ann Brashares uses a clever device (the eponymous pair of jeans) to produce a novel about four friends over one summer. The girls each wear the jeans for a week or so, then pass them on, and we follow the garment through all its adventures.
Novels about groups of girls allow almost every reader to identify with one of them. They're nicely varied in this book, in which each of the girls grows up and learns a little about life. Perhaps the fact that the jeans fit all four of them stretches credulity: but hey, this is fiction.
Cynthia Voigt can't write a dull sentence and these two books about Mickey and Margalo are terrific. Anyone who knows Voigt from the Tillerman novels should be warned that these are different. It's almost as though the author had looked about her and thought: wacky, whizzy books about young girls getting into troubleI well, if that's what they want instead of long, demanding, character-led novels, then I'll give it a go.
Born to be Bad takes place mainly in school, and this close look at classroom life in the United States is fascinating. By the end, you feel as if you know every child. We also meet a real humdinger of a teacher: the daunting Mrs Chemsky.
Bad, Badder, Baddest spreads out beyond the classroom to the girls'
families and introduces the parents and their problems. All the characters are complex and intriguing: funny and sad at the same time. Mickey and Margalo come sparklingly to life, and have a fine line in dialogue. During a trip to a shopping mall, Margalo remarks about training bras: "Training for what? That's what I'd like to know!" We also meet Giannette, who is a bad girl in an altogether different way from the heroines of these warm, funny, enjoyable novels.
Finally, the film Bend it like Beckham was so good that a novelisation might remind young people how much they loved it, but don't expect anything beyond a prose version of what was on screen.