Jada Jones, Sleepover Scientist (Cybils 2019 nominee)

Jada is finally allowed to have her first sleepover party ever! She plans for an elaborate Best Friends Science Lab and a night of experiments. It’s her first get together since her BFF Mari moved to Phoenix from Raleigh; it will be just Jada and other friends Simone and Lena.*

Mari would have loved Jada’s sleepover idea, but Simone and Lena are lukewarm. Good thing Mari (back in town for a wedding) surprises her old friends! But when friend jealousies and different interests bubble over into an argument, Jada has to filter her powers of observation through her metaphorical empathy lens to bring her group back together.

Jada Jones & friends make ice cream

Loved

  • Although her passion for science stops just this side of overdone, Jada is stylish, interesting, intelligent and kind.
  • The real takeaways from this book are honesty, integrity, and friendship; when Jada focuses on those, the sleepover is saved.
  • YAY for an intact Black/blerd family – kids need to see more of those on the pages.
  • Simone’s hostility towards all things science (especially in light of her journalistic ambition) is refreshing. More on that below.
  • Gorgeous tri-color illustrations by Nneka Myers add visual interest.

Caveat

A #womanintech myself, I’ve written about my concern about the push to get girls interested in STEM without addressing the underlying issues of non-inclusive, inflexible workplaces (or that it’s completely OK not to like science!). I won’t link it here; I want the Cybils team to invite me back next year.

But the opening scene in Jada’s bedroom, with posters of George Washington Carver and Mae Jemison had me wondering if I needed to break out the side-eye. Jada is definitely very passionate about science, but the Jada’s strong voice and the fast intro of the warm/fuzzy friendship subplot kept me reading.

And would have kept me reading even if I weren’t committed to reviewing it for Cybils.

There is no slime until the very last few pages. Kids love slime. As a mother, I have a different take on the upholstery-destroying substance and why I would love to never see it again as long as I live. But I digress.

Verdict

This was my first Jada Jones, but I will be giving this book to my seven-year-old daughter.


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