Honestly, Katie John! is the second book of the four Katie John books by Mary Calhoun,and it’s the only book of the series I’ve read. It’s a cute story of tomboy Katie John, who has moved from California to Barton’s Bluff, Missouri, with her family, to live in the big old house her great-grandfather had built. Her parents rent out the many rooms to boarders to supplement their income.
In this second book, Katie John is a sixth grader trying to figure out who she’s going to be now that she isn’t a little kid anymore. She’s a rough-and-tumble kind of girl, and she struggles as she watches her friends begin to embrace their girliness as they become young women–trying on lipsticks and wearing bras and liking boys. In response, Katie John forms the Boy-Haters Club, which gets her into an awkward situation with her good friend Edwin, who, one might correctly assume, is a boy. Katie can’t seem to do anything right!
Edwin and Katie John are exploring an old house they found out in the country, but once they aren’t speaking to each other, Katie continues to rummage through the junk in the house by herself, trying to find clues about the young woman who lived in the house back in the 1930s, and who, for some unknown reason, abruptly abandoned the house with her family. Katie John’s discoveries help her navigate her rocky road into adolescence, and the result is a charming story of funny and poignant misadventures.
This book is particular favorite from my childhood for a very special reason: it was the first book I ever ordered from the Scholastic Book Club!