“Hot tickets could be awarded for doing something cool, saying something funny, or sometimes even just wearing something the ticket dispenser liked. All authentic hot tickets were two inch by six inch rectangles made from this orange cardboard material, with “HOT TICKET” written in big bold letters at the top. Hot tickets first started becoming popular about a month after school started. Then there was this rash of copycat tickets on regular paper, but people just tossed those in the trash. Everybody could figure out it was one of their friends that made it anyway. But an authentic ticket – that was something you kept. Some people had their lockers decorated in hot and shame tickets. Some people kept their hot tickets at home to prevent theft. If I got a hot ticket, I would definitely keep it taped on the inside door of my locker. Right now my locker only had a locker mirror, a picture of Lucy and I from my birthday party at Six Flags and these annoying cat stickers from the person who had my locker before me. Fifth grade did not prepare me for this at all.” Juliet Robinson is the only sixth grader in John Jay Jr. High who hasn’t received a “hot ticket” from the mysterious ticket dispenser. When one of the dorkiest kids in school – Crammit Gibson – receives a ticket before she does, Juliet decides that the ticketing system has to stop. With the help of her best friend Lucy, a Daria-esque Madeline and her almost-crush Crammit, Juliet is determined to climb a few rungs on the middle school social ladder and catch the ticket dispenser once and for all!
This past year I watched Silly Bandz take over during the fall. Kids would crowd around my desk and show off theirs and trade. The more you had the cooler it was. That soooooo reminded me of the hot tickets in this book. All the kids wanted them, and the more you had the “cooler” you were, and if you didn’t have any you didn’t want anyone knowing. I could completely see students getting caught up in these hot tickets and trying to figure out how to get some.
Juliet doesn’t have any. None. And she is bugged by it. At first you can tell she’s just a little bugged, but as the story goes on she gets hyper-focused on these tickets and either getting one or, more importantly, figuring out the sender. This becomes such an obsession with her that she almost looses her best friend! This may be been a little over dramatic for the the purpose of the book, and as a grown up I was rolling my eyes a bit about her whole obsession BUT I knew it was completely realistic for a kid that age.
The whole mystery of who the sender of the hot tickets is was well done. Just as Juliet’s clues and evidence kept her changing who she thought it was, the reader is kept uncertain as well. If I had thought a little more instead of just enjoying the story, I might have figured it out before Juliet, but I chose to just enjoy. It wasn’t really obvious, so that was great. If I had known sooner, or figured it out sooner, the book wouldn’t have been as enjoyable.
My only slight concern with the story was the reaction of the teachers. It seemed to take them a while to step in, especially with all the poster hanging. I know that in my building the posters for sure would not have gotten that far before someone stopped them. It’s only a minor thing, and I think that my being a teacher is the only reason why I noticed it. A kid reading the book wouldn’t care!
For the Guys? The cover is very gender neutral so I could for sure get them to at least check it out! Not so sure they’d get Juliet’s obsession though!
Final Thought: Popularity Fad like Hot Tickets are completely believable!
Best stick-with-you image: When Juliet figures the whole thing out!
Best for readers who are: 6th graders
Best for ages: 9-12
Make sure to read the guest post by the author when she talks about an experience she had as a 6th grader. Fun memory that I know added to the fantastic feel of the story.