By Dorian Cirrone
Hardcover: 208 pages
HarperTeen, February, 2008
Emily Bennet has some impossible projects on her “To Do” list, like landing her longtime crush, Brian Harrington, and winning the job of editor in chief of the school newspaper over her arch nemesis, Daniel Cummings. And, on top of that, she’s determined to do something special. Something important. Something good.
Suddenly, Emily’s checking things off her list left and right. She’s kissing Brian on a semiregular basis and she’s raising money for a good cause by planning an Alternative Prom (but she would secretly rather go to the real one). The only item that remains is knocking Daniel Cummings off his pedestal. But when did he start to look, well, cute?
Emily’s finding it harder and harder to stick to her list. And she still needs to conquer the most important item of all. Can she find her inner prom queen and figure out how to rock?
“Emily is intelligent and personable, with her narration and commentary skewering and usually hilarious.”
“Two things dear to teen girls—quality extracurriculars that’ll look good on college applications and budding romance—collide in Cirrone’s (Dancing in Red Shoes Will Kill You) lighthearted look at figuring out what’s important … Emily’s navigation is fresh and will keep things going.”
“Emily, a junior, doesn’t fit in with the superficial students at posh Crestview Prep. She nurtures a crush on her next-door neighbor, its basketball star, and she aspires to be editor-in-chief of the school newspaper. Chance brings her and her dream boy together and gives her a lead on a potentially winning story. Following that lead takes her places she never expected: both good and bad, but always funny and enlightening … Chapter headings are formatted like newspaper headlines tracking the path of Hurricane Emily, a charming homage to the teen’s journalistic goals.”
—School Library Journal
“Prom Kings and Drama Queens by Dorian Cirrone is a delightful dramedy. Every chapter has a headline worthy of both hurricane and human. (Examples include “Emily Poses Little Threat” and “Emily Changes Course.”) Cirrone allows her protagonist to have levity throughout the book and integrity with the going gets tough. Give this book to amateur reporters, reluctant readers, and romantic comedy fans. With journalistic endeavors, romantic mishaps, and a catchy title, Prom Kings and Drama Queens will be appreciated by young adults and the young-at-heart.”
Cirrone’s refreshingly light touch features pitch-perfect dialogue and sprightly plotting; she consciously avoids a winner-take-all, angsty approach to things like high-school dating politics and popularity rites, proffering a more sane and reasonable portrait of what it means to do the right thing even if it means losing a boyfriend or two – there are always other boyfriends to be had.
—The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
Emily Poses Little Threat
Junior year was supposed to be all about Brian Harrington, the prom, and becoming editor in chief of the Crestview Courier. Instead, it was all about handcuffs, hormones, and headlines.
But in a good way.
Not in a skanky way.
Of course, none of it would have happened if it hadn’t been for the summer before eighth grade. That’s when Brandy and Randy Clausen, my former best friends forever, decided it would be fun to create an I Hate Emily Club.
For no apparent reason, except perhaps that I did not get the memo we were no longer wearing horizontal striped shirts from the Limited Too, I had suddenly become The Target. After a year of being excluded from every shopping trip, sleepover, and party, I vowed I would someday get back at one or both twins.
Around the same time that summer, a hurricane named Emily was in the news. I watched the headlines everyday as they shouted: “Emily Roars Across Caribbean” or “Emily Blasts Through Gulf,” or, my personal favorite, “Emily Rocks South Florida.” After seeing those headlines each morning for days, I decided two things:
1. I really liked seeing my name in print. And,
2. I wanted to be like that Emily in the headlines – to take the world by storm.
Not that I wanted to knock over mango trees or whip power lines across the sky like spaghetti. But I wanted to rock in my own way.
- The title, Prom Kings and Drama Queens, comes from John Mayer’s song “No Such Thing,” which Emily dances to at the end of the novel. Mayer sings that he never lived the dreams of the prom kings and drama queens and that he likes to think the “best of me is still hiding up my sleeve.” What meaning does this have for the novel?
- Mayer also sings “they love to tell you stay inside the lines.” What does Mayer mean, and what does this have to do with the novel? Can you find passages in the book that refer to various types of actual lines?
- Which characters stay inside the lines?
- Which characters don’t?
- What might be the symbolic significance of the Harringtons’ snow globe collection?
- How do Brian’s parents treat his grandmother? Why do you think they treat her this way?
- Do you think Emily and Daniel did the right thing by not revealing the truth about Brian and the other basketball team members?
- Why didn’t Daniel tell on the team?
- Why didn’t Emily tell on the team?
- Sometimes people do the wrong thing for the right reasons. Can you think of any events in the novel where that happens?
- Likewise, sometimes people do the right thing for the wrong reasons. Does this also happen in the novel?
- How and why do Emily and Daniel come up with the plan for the alternative prom?
- Do you think Brian made the right decision about the prom? Why do you think he chose the way he did?
- Which prom would you have chosen to attend?
- On page 194, Daniel uses the term, “conspicuous consumption,” coined by economist Thorstein Veblen. What do you think that means?
- What is the significance of Emily’s mother’s job as a food stylist? What does it have to do with the themes of the novel?
- On page 197, Emily realizes that “doing well” and “doing good” are two very different things. What does she mean by that?
- At one point, Emily thinks about a picture book called Miss Rumphius, in which the main character tells her niece to make the world more beautiful.
- How do various characters in the novel make the world more beautiful?
- How could you make the world more beautiful?
- At a certain point, Emily realizes that her parents were young once with dreams just like hers. What happened to their dreams?
- Do you think the same thing will happen to Emily?