Val and Lanora were BFFs—that is, until they entered middle school and Lanora decided to reinvent herself, straightening her curly hair and hanging out with the popular girls. Being popular isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, as Lanora adds stealing to her list of reinventions. However, Val misses Lanora and can’t let their friendship go without a fight.
While she’s looking for a butterfly charm that Lanora left at their special spot in Central Park, Val meets a boy named Tasman. It turns out that Mau, a stray cat that has come to love the girls' attention, picked it up and took it to a mysterious bookshop where Tasman resides. Tasman quickly befriends Val and joins her on the quest to save Lanora. He introduces Val to The Book of Dares, which contains a spell he thinks will “cure” Lanora. And so begins Val, Tasman and Mau’s journey.
Author Jane Kelley creates a beautiful story around her cast of quirky, loyal and loving characters, tackling serious issues, including divorce and theft, but maintaining a sense of hope as the characters are each forced to overcome various obstacles. The author’s use of magic proves intriguing as Val and Tasman follow the spell and gather the appropriate ingredients. The story ultimately becomes a quest for finding themselves. Perfect for seventh and eighth graders, this wonderful story is even more powerful when read along with an adult.