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I SO DON'T DO MAKEUP


By Barrie Summy

Delecorte Press, 2010 ($16.99)
ISBN-10: 0385737882
ISBN-13: 978-0-385-73788-3
(Trade paperback; also available in library binding and e-book)
Ages 10 and up

Reviewed by Shirley Wetzel

Sherry Baldwin is having her first makeup slumber party, with supplies furnished by the owner of Naked Makeup, a kiosk in the local mall. Attending are boy-crazy Brianna, BFF Junie, and Kim, a member of the Janes, a group of girls who refuse to ever wear makeup. Needless to say, Sherry is surprised that Kim showed up. She had to invite her because she's Josh Morton's cousin, and Josh's mother, a beautician, is hoping Sherry can change Kim's mind about using beauty products. Kim refuses to take part in the proceedings, which turns out to be lucky for her. Next morning, Sherry is awakened by a scream. Junie's face is puffy and red like the worst sunburn ever. Brianna's almost as bad; Sherry, who used less of the night cream that caused the reaction, still has a red face. The Ruler, hearing the screams, rushes in and helps the girls with some of her natural remedies. Sherry and Junie, faces swathed in scarves, go directly to the Naked Makeup kiosk and show Amber, Junie's cousin and makeup artist, their faces. Amber and the shop's owner, Lacy, are horrified. Their makeup line is totally natural, no harmful ingredients, no animal testing. How could this happen?

Before long other clients are reporting bad results with the products, and Sherry and Junie try to figure out what's gone wrong before somebody gets badly injured or Lacy goes out of business. Sherry goes to her meeting spot with her mom, a tree in her backyard, and waves around a bag of coffee beans. Mom, a former policewoman, is a ghost, but still has a role in watching over living people and stopping crimes. She and Sherry have solved two cases, but when Sherry asks for help, Mom turns her down. She says she can't help her, and she wants Sherry to just let it go. Sherry can't do that: somebody is out to hurt people she cares about, and she won't stop until she finds out who it is.

She rides her bike to the Dairy Queen, where the local branch of the Academy of Spirits is located, to find out from Mrs. Howard, her mother's guidance counselor, what's going on. Mrs. Howard shows Sherry a video of stories on the WWWD - the World Wide Web for the Dead - about Sherry and her mother as a crime-fighting duo. They are becoming famous in the Otherworld, not a good thing for a crime-fighting spirit. There are people who would love to see them fail. Mrs. Howard tells Sherry that her mom has a great opportunity to become a liaison with a foreign academy, and the situation is very delicate. Sherry's mom needs to focus all her attention on increasing her skills, and the tainted makeup is just not that important. Easy for her to say, Sherry thinks, but it is an important case for her. She just can't let it go. By the time she leaves the Dairy Queen, Sherry is already planning her next move.

With a little help from Grandpa, whose spirit resides in a mangy cactus wren, John, Junie and her new boyfriend, who Sherry thinks of as Nerdy Nick, things work out and nobody gets in trouble. This is an enjoyable series, but I question whether the average thirteen-year-old girl really goes to school with full makeup, including gobs of mascara and eye shadow. And Sherry's not the average young teenager, she has a strict stepmother who, in the previous two books, restricted her use of makeup. At one point, Sherry has Amber do a professional makeup job on her, and she remarks that she could easily pass for seventeen. I'm not sure Sherry is a good role model in this case.

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