Piper (7th grade) considers herself a “blender,” one who would rather blend in with the crowd than stand out. When her father is hired as the music teacher at the exclusive Chumley Prep, she is thrust into a new school where, it seems, everyone excels. The quintessential mean girl is there, Ainsley, and she is almost nonstop mean. Still, Piper finds some good friends and things are looking up.
Then a new competition is announced: The Excelsior Prize, and everyone is determined to win it, though no one is quite sure what accomplishments it celebrates. Piper manages to continue being herself, helping others and working hard in her classes. She also would like to win the new prize, and the Science Fair seems to be the first step. Piper is feeling good about her entry, and then she is blindsided by Ainsley, who uses a technicality to exclude Piper from the Science Fair, taking first place for herself, hoping it will help ensure that she, Ainsley, wins the new Excelsior Prize.
This is a positive book about being true to yourself and caring about others. It is for upper elementary and early middle school readers.
Grabenstein, J.J. and Chris. Shine! Random House Books for Young Readers, 2019.