Girl of the Year 2001: Lindsey

Author: Chryssa Atkinson
Illustrators: Zelda Bean and Tracy McGuinness


Lindsey Bergman is passionate about certain causes like animal rights and saving the planet, but she doesn't always go about helping the right way. She jumps right into things without thinking them through. For example, her school's pet parade: Lindsey thought it was cruel to dress animals in costumes for the event, so she made flyers to protest it, but also grabbed someone's iguana and climbed up a tree with it. Or when she pretties up the neighbors' trash cans by putting giant smiley face stickers on them, which is technically vandalism. As her dad puts it, she sometimes crosses the line from helping to meddling--like the way she's too interested in her music teacher's personal life (he's single and she wants to get him a girlfriend to take care of him). But she does genuinely care, and not always bad, like when she sees April, an unpopular girl, being bullied by two other girls and helps April get her backpack down from the tree they threw it up, and consoles April. The next day she actually tackles one of the bullies and stops the whole before it gets going. A round of applause for Lindsey!

Someone who could use some meddling is Lindsey's uncle Bernie. He's never been a very motivated person--a slob, frankly--and his wife finally got sick of it and divorced him. When Lindsey's dad went to visit Bernie, he found him slouched on the couch in his pajamas, eating cheese puffs dipped in peanut butter. Hoping to get him back on his feet--or as close to it as he ever was--the Bergmans are having Bernie stay with them for "as long as it takes" (indefinite length of stay--cue horror music). Lindsey's able to get him up and about long enough for him to crash his scooter into a neighbor's garden. It's not much, but it's a start. He even helps straighten up the house a couple days later. And in doing so, throws away the magazine clippings Lindsey was saving for her collage, due tomorrow. Fortunately Lindsey invited April over that afternoon, deciding she doesn't care if other students will make fun of her for hanging out with April, and with her help Lindsey finishes the project. She turns it in the to the teacher, making a point to talk up the music teacher, figuring he'd be perfect for Lindsey's fourth-grade teacher. The music teacher even asks the fourth-grade teacher on a date...too bad she's engaged...Lindsey has to apologize to both of them, for snooping into their private lives.

Bernie heads back downhill though, when he gets a call from his ex-wife that she's bring her new boyfriend to Lindsey's older brother's Bar Mitzvah celebration. Lindsey tries to help with the preparations. Some of it's great, like helping her mom figure out a good menu for teenage boys. She also notices that a cousin is left off the guest list and sends her an invitation, thinking she could set her up with her uncle (cousin on her mom's side). Without asking. She stresses about it, (and for a bit about Bernie losing Lindsey's beloved dachshund, but he's found soon after). The day of the celebration, she helps some more, calming her brother down enough for him to go through with everything. A t the reception, she's sure to seat her aunt/uncle's ex on the opposite side of the room, and her cousin at the same table as her uncle. Only to find that she wasn't invited because she was the one who talked her aunt into leaving her uncle! The two fight before two other uncles break them up. Lindsey apologizes profusely and her uncle forgives her, recognizing that she truly meant well. Lindsey promises she's learned from her mistakes this time, and dances with her uncle. 

Real Girls, Real Stories

Hilary S. raised money to help save wild tigers when she heard there were only six thousand left, and her next project is setting up a recycling program at her school. Brita T. used her allowance money to buy gym shoes for a classmate who couldn't afford them, and then with the help of her family and 4H group, started Happy Feet to provide shoes to underprivileged Minnesota children--5,000 pairs as of 2001. Austin L. worked with her Girl Scout troop to raise awareness and change laws to protect endangered manatees (for example, lowering speed limits for boats in certain areas).


Dedicated to "Jim, Sydney, and Sam; special thanks to Andrea Weiss and her brilliant red pen."

For some reason, this is the only Girl of the Year book my library system doesn't have. I had to get it on an inter-library loan. There were a couple copies available in the Seattle Library System (although in King County, the city of Seattle has libraries separate from the King County Library System) so I assumed it would have come from there. But the copy I got is from the Spokane Library System, on the other side of the state--about three hundred miles away.

Unlike the History Mysteries and Girls of Many Lands books, the pages in the Girl of the Year books are thicker and smoother like the other American Girl books. But they're written in first person, unlike other AG books.

Lindesey's brother is 13, but doesn't know that rosebushes have thorns. Despite a neighbor having rosebushes. Are the Bergmans sure he's ready to become a Bar Mitzvah?

Bernie is Lindsey's father's brother, making him Bernie Bergman.

Would pizza be problematic at a Jewish celebration that also includes meat, since pizza usually has cheese? I'm sure the food could be kept separate, but wouldn't it make more sense to only have dairy or only have meat?

Well, that's depressing. The current wild tiger population is estimated to be between three and four thousand now.

The shoe charity reminds me of a couple who bought dozens of pairs of shoes in a variety of sizes from the clearance table when I worked at Big 5. They were going to Africa and knew a lot of children went barefoot over rough terrain. The manager gave them an additional discount when he heard about their plan.

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