I just love Spinelli. Even though he tells a similar story with new names and faces each time, it’s the kind of story you can never hear enough of, because every time you read it you become just a little bit better.

Jake and Lily reminded me of Crash, except that the duel narrators make this one relevant for girls as well. Jake and Lily are twins who’ve always had a special connection, but as they get older Jake starts to pull away. While Lily gets closer to her long lost Poppy and struggles to cope with losing her best friend, Jake starts to hang out with the ‘Death Ray’ boys who entertain themselves by pestering ‘goobers’, people who are just too much of everything and don’t even know it. Lily doesn’t like the kind of person Jake’s starting to become.

It’s a fun read with short chapters, but most importantly kids won’t be able to help being impressed as they read it. The twins find out for themselves the true definition of ‘having a life’—pursuing interests and friends without being overly dependent on someone else; of courage and true bravery—standing up to bullying as opposed to dishing it out; of friendship—winning the respect and companionship of others rather than blindly following the lead of the kingpin; and finally, what it means to be a twin.

Spinelli should be compulsory reading for every middle school child… and probably parent and teacher too.

Clare Cannon is the editor of www.GoodReadingGuide.com and the manager of Portico Books in Sydney.

Clare Cannon lives in Sydney where she is editor of The Good Reading Guide and manager of Portico Books,...