Being the new girl is never easy. Ella has no friends- but has a big secret.
When Lydia, the school's most popular girl, decides to make Ella her new best friend, Ella can't believe her luck and will do anything to keep in her favour. Yet Lydia's interest in Molly, a quiet, shy member of class means she asks Ella to do things Ella is not comfortable with and as she comes to know both girls better, Ella is forced to consider what friendship means and what it's worth.
This is one of those books which it is important not to spoil for the reader by giving too much away! Ella's 'secret' is handled with great sensitivity by Cath Howe and her thoughts, anxieties and doubts explored as she puzzles her way through them.
'Ella on the Outside' also looks at friendship. Lydia's seeming popularity is really the result of manipulation and blackmail and Ella's situation will (sadly) be recognised by many. The book offers the opportunity for discussing feelings of isolation and the desperate need to belong and be a part of the crowd. Hopefully, it will also encourage discussion of how to deal with the pressure Ella feels under when she realises things are getting out of control.
My favourite character, however, is Molly. Quiet and unassuming, she reminds me of so many children I have taught over the years, easily misjudged- or indeed judged- by others without any thought or care.
An enjoyable read which is also challenging and thought provoking for the upper end of KS2 and into lower secondary.
Ella on the Outside Cath Howe
Nosy Crow ISBN: 978-1788000338
Publication date 3rd May 2018