‘Ella on the Outside,’ by Cath Howe, illustration by Nicola Theobald.

Ella is the new girl at school and she’s hiding a secret. A secret so terrible that surely no one would want to be friends with her anyway, even if they did notice her existence!


When Queen Bee, Lydia, decides to grace Ella with her friendship, Ella can’t believe her luck – suddenly all the other girls want to be her friend and she’s being invited to sleepovers.  However, it soon transpires that Lydia is not the princess she portrays herself as and is quite prepared to manipulate and blackmail Ella, not only into revealing her own secret, but other people’s too.

It’s only when Ella befriends the painfully shy Molly, that she starts to realise what true friendship is about and what it means to be loyal.

’Ella on the Outside,’ accurately portrays the brutal politics of high school friendships and the dreaded ‘popular girl’ who everyone’s terrified to cross. I felt for her as she stood at the side of the playground longing for someone to talk to her, as she wrote to her dad in prison and awaited his response, and as she wrestled with her conscience and the desire to be accepted.

Beautifully observed and subtly written, the perfect book for children on the cusp of leaving the snug nest of their primary schools and learning to fly at their secondaries.

Library Girl.

*Many thanks to Nosy Crow for sending me this title to review*


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