On the first day of 5th Grade, Pearl Littlefield’s class gets homework: the dreaded “How I Spent My Summer Vacation” essay. And, it has to be outlined, in Roman Numerals. Pearl isn’t sure she wants to write about her summer. It’s the summer her father lost his job at the university. Because of that, it’s the summer her older sister Lexie had to work as a counselor-in-training at their summer camp; and she was in charge of Pearl’s group. It’s the summer she and her best friend James (JBIII) spent most of the summer not speaking. (Well, Pearl did accidentally push JBIII and break his elbow.) It’s the summer the family vacation to the Great American West had to transform into the Great New York City Staycation (well, some of that wasn’t so bad, but it wasn’t, you know, the Old West.) It’s the summer nearly everyone in the family saved money and found jobs right away, except Pearl (and her professor father). Oh, but wait, it’s also the summer Pearl and JBIII (with the healed elbow) started a business together.
Pearl puts all this and more into her essay (the whole book except for the first chapter is that essay, with the outline attached at the end), which she calls Ten Good and Bad Things About My Life (So Far). Newbery Honor Winner Ann M. Martin has created a warm and timely solo read or read-aloud in this sequel to “Ten Rules for Living with My Sister.”