When you were in elementary or middle school, did you ever feel like you didn't fit in or couldn't get interested in some of your school subjects? Alex seems to feel that way. Smart Alex is about Alex Martinez, a smart, sassy 7th grader flirting with trouble and spending far too much time in detention after school. She sits with the table of misfits in the lunch room - the only group she really identifies with. But over the course of the book, she begins to see her own potential and gain some confidence in her abilities.
Though I'm definitely not the target audience for The Girls Know How Series, I wanted to check it out for my eldest daughter, who just turned nine. The goal of the series is to help girls see some of the career choices they may not normally consider - journalism, construction, or education are covered as the first three books of the series. It also aims to help readers see the benefits of working together, helping their communities, and applying what they learn in school to different areas of their lives.
Alex' journey from a loner with low self-confidence and little direction doesn't happen all at once in Smart Alex. She goes through stages, first discovering her talent for math and joining the MATHCOUNTS team. MATHCOUNTS is a program where a team of four students from one school competes against a team from a different school. During the competition, both teams are given a math problem. The first to buzz in and provide the correct answer gets the points. The team with the most points wins.
Once she joins the team and sees her potential, she tries to answer every question herself - never stopping to ask her team for input. Unfortunately she doesn't get every answer correct, which causes her team to lose a few competitions. Over time she begins to see that teamwork has its advantages and that her teammates may have the right answer even if she doesn't.