cover image Isabella for Real

Isabella for Real

Margie Palatini, illus. by LeUyen Pham. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $16.99 (208p) ISBN 978-0-544-14846-8

In this funny novel featuring a boisterous Italian-American family in New Jersey, a burst of social media attention causes a jumble of problems for 11-year-old Isabella Antonelli, who’s already juggling the adjustment to her new private school. Isabella reluctantly agrees to help her film-student cousin, Vincent, by starring in a series of video shorts that offer humorous looks at their family’s everyday life. She has forgotten all about the project by the time she starts attending a posh middle school, where the students mistakenly believe Isabella is the famous daughter of royalty—and she doesn’t set them straight. When Vincent’s videos go viral, Isabella is terrified that she’ll be revealed as “fibbing, faking, [and] phony” to her new friends. Palatini (Under a Pig Tree) writes her over-the-top characters with glee, mixing in references to food, Sinatra fandom, and hairstyles that will sound plenty familiar to anyone with similar heritage. Pham (the Princess in Black series) extends the fun in crisp comics sequences that expand on Isabella’s thoughts and emotions while helping to propel the story. Ages 10–12. Agent: Linda Pratt, Wernick & Pratt. (Oct.)