Review: How the Pops Stole Christmas by Nancy E. Krulik

Middle Grade Madness

How the Pops Stole Christmas by Nancy Krulik

Winter Break is approaching, and everyone at Joyce Kilmer Middle School is in the holiday spirit. Everyone except the Pops, that is! Jenny can’t wait for the holidays, but her good mood quickly evaporates when she picks Dana as her “Secret Snowflake” in English class and finds out that her friend Sam is heading home to England for the holidays. Things go from bad to worse when Jenny doesn’t get invited to her friend Mark’s New Year’s Eve party. What’s going on? Is Mark angry with Jenny about something she did? Or could the Pops have something to do with it?

Title: How the Pops Stole Christmas (How I Survived Middle School #12)
Author: Nancy E. Krulik
Publication date: October 1, 2009

The title of How the Pops Stole Christmas is a lie because the Pops (short for popular) didn’t steal Christmas. They didn’t even ruin anybody’s Christmas. They — and really it wasn’t all of the Pops, just a couple of them — put a damper on Jenny’s Christmas, but Jenny could have easily solved the problem by straight out talking to Mark. But Jenny’s only in sixth grade so I’ll give her a slight pass.

I loved reading about all the fun things Jenny and her friends did over their winter break. They certainly were active. My favorite was probably the tree trimming party on Christmas Eve. I love the idea of that and might have to try it out one year. Throughout the book, including at the tree trimming party, Jenny is very angsty over not being invited to Mark’s New Year’s Eve party. She’s going to have a good time in high school, I can tell.

Jenny consults when she needs guidance on everything from gift idea for her Secret Snowflake to recipes (candy cane hot cocoa!) to fun magazine-style quizzes. I was happy to find that is a real website — sort of. It’s run by Scholastic, so its real purpose is to sell the books, but I like it when characters use sites that actually exist, even if they’re made up for the purpose of the book.

This is another — I think my third recently — book with a required Secret Santa (or Snowflake, in this case). I still find it hard to believe that it’s so common, but at least the Secret Snowflakes give handmade items instead of forcing the kids to spend money they might not have on their classmates. It was also much less a focus of the overall story than in the other books.

Like Confessions of a Bitter Secret Santa, How the Pops Stole Christmas is part of a series. The How I Survived Middle School series, seems to focus on the same characters, which is what I wanted from the Candy Apple series. These books are a bit young for me, even for middle grade books, so I don’t know if I’ll read any more of them, but I might pick them up if I see any others at the library. Especially if there are any other holiday books at a time I’m looking for holiday books, which is how I ran across this one.

3 1/2 stars