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About The Book


It's hard enough being the new kid in school. It's even tougher when all of your new classmates live in big houses and wear expensive clothes, while your parents have little and are risking everything just to give you a chance at a better life.

Now Janie's about to do something that will make her stand out even more among the rich kids at Satterthwaite School. Something that will have everyone wondering just who Janie Sams really is. And something that will mean totally unexpected changes for Janie and her family.

Reading Group Guide

Janie's parents move to the suburbs so she can go to a better school, but when she discovers that all the other students are richer than she is, she feels out of place -- until she realizes that there are more important things than money.
School stories; Family life; Friendship; Determination
€ How does your school compare to the two grade schools Janie goes to?
€ Do clothes tell what a person is like? If so, what? If not, why not?
€ Would you be willing to offer a coat to someone who obviously needs one? How would you go about doing it?
€ Why did the specialty shop owner give Janie's mother back the sweaters? Is it fair to do business in this way? Who actually benefits from this practice?
€ How are the classmates in the two schools portrayed?
€ Find someone who knows how to knit and have the class learn basic knit and purl stitches.
€ Find out how much a winter coat that you want costs. How many hours would someone have to work for that coat if they earned minimum wage; a dollar more; two times more than minimum wage, etc.?
€ What countries do stores such as Wal-Mart, Kmart, Dillard's, or JC Penney's buy their clothes from? How much is someone in those countries paid to make these clothes?
This reading group guide is for classroom, library, and reading group use. It may be reproduced in its entirety or excerpted for these purposes.
Prepared by Julie Tomlianovich
© William Allen White Children's Book Award
Please visit for more information about the awards and to see curriculum guides for other master list titles.

About The Author

The Backstage Studio

Margaret Peterson Haddix is the author of many critically and popularly acclaimed YA and middle grade novels, including the Children of Exile series, The Missing series, the Under Their Skin series, and the Shadow Children series. A graduate of Miami University (of Ohio), she worked for several years as a reporter for The Indianapolis News. She also taught at the Danville (Illinois) Area Community College. She lives with her family in Columbus, Ohio. Visit her at

About The Illustrator

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (February 14, 2012)
  • Length: 96 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781442457805
  • Grades: 2 - 5
  • Ages: 7 - 10

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Raves and Reviews

"Readers will likely warm up to this appealing novel's perceptive, independent-minded title character."

– Publishers Weekly

"A warmhearted tale of a self-possessed girl who is determined to make life better for her parents."

– School Library Journal

"The combination of cozy and challenging elements will make this a good fit for many young readers."


"This thoughtful story shows a girl's faith in family, the importance of welcoming new students, and that money really isn't everything. Recommended."

– Library Talk

Awards and Honors

  • Iowa Children's Choice Award Nominee
  • Bank Street Best Books of the Year
  • ABA Pick of the Lists

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More books from this author: Margaret Peterson Haddix