9th Grade Angst-Friday Fiction


How do you lose those 9th grade blues

Today’s selection is definitely dated and for extra giggles, a bit creepy. This book is the second in the Elsie series by DeClements. The first book is Nothing’s Fair in Fifth Grade, where we meet Elsie Edwards. Elsie is the proverbial “fat girl” and is struggling with weight.

In this sequel, Elsie is a girl who has lost the weight and now is deemed pretty by her peers. But wait, she is still not happy! Elsie can’t believe boys are interested in her. But wait! A senior boy named Craddoc (what is with this name?) starts asking Elsie out and eventually they start dating.

Craddoc is a football player and kind of the “it” guy at high school. Elsie initially thinks this is weird since she is a freshman and he is a senior. I got ick vibes from the get go. Then I read read Craddoc’s line to Elsie: “maybe it’s lucky I got you so young so I can train you.”  (Run Elsie, this guy is no good!)

I will give points to the book for discussing that weight loss and beauty does not equal happiness. I also think these are probably tapping into some preteen thoughts and anxieties and no doubt this book would have been popular. Today’s preteens would probably laugh at the scenarios and recognize Craddoc as a creep from the get go. Also, how many of today’s kids will get the reference to “dittos”, waiting by the phone for a boy to call, and pop culture references.




sorry doesn't mean anything

maggot head

maggot head





  1. I read the first one of these books in the ‘90s, but don’t remember a lot of it. I think Jenny Sawyer was the narrator and Sharon Hinkler might have accused Elsie of stealing at some point?

    WOW…Craddoc is apparently a full-scale sadist. Re: his name, is he perhaps supposed to be one of those “moneyed types” who gets their mother’s surname as a first name?

  2. I don’t care how cute he is (and I was friends with a lot of cute football players in high school), I could never take someone named “Craddoc” seriously. He absolutely would have gone by some cool-guy nickname.

    I’d never have been around him enough for him to become so openly creepy. Maybe his whole giant family is abusive; if you’d name your kid that, you may be a bad parent in other ways.

    Today’s kids would think “rapped about extraterrestrials” meant he was spitting rhymes about UFOs. By 1984, nobody used “rap” in the 60’s-70’s fashion, especially kids. And how is it it took him till nearly Thanksgiving to see “E.T.” when it came out in summer? Too busy being predatory?

    Book sale — someone who loved this as a kid will snap it up.

  3. Who in their right mind would even interested in reading this book in the first place, either today OR back in 1984?

  4. Any book, movie or TV show about teenagers only serves to remind me how glad I am that I’m no longer a teenager.

  5. Yes, this book is very dated. My local library system has only kept the creme de la creme of Barthe DeClements’ work, which doesn’t include this one. I would like to give a shout out to DeClements as a very well-regarded children’s author of her day and someone who normalized dyslexia and other learning disabilities in her fiction. All of her novels were written when she was in her 60s and 70s. If she is still alive today, she’s 101 years old!

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