Naomi Zucker
Callie's Rules jacket

Callie’s Rules, Egmont USA, 2009.
Ages 8-12

Calliope Jones—who prefers to be called Callie—is discovering that in middle school the rules are different. Some of them don’t make sense to her, so she starts writing some rules of her own.

Callie’s family also has its own way of doing things. Particularly the way they celebrate Halloween. Callie’s mother is a metal sculptor, who every year creates a new, life-size weirdo. This year there will be eighteen of them, which the seven Jones children and their parents will set up in a snaking path to their front door. There Mr. Jones will be handing out Toasty Ghosties, made in his own home-grown pumpkin cauldron.

But when the town council bans Halloween, Callie decides to emulate her heroine, Jane Eyre, and make her stand. When her petition in favor of Halloween fails, and the town even bans the weirdos, Callie knows what she must do.

Callie's Rules Discussion Guide

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"In middle school, Callie feels stifled by rules. . . . Not wanting to stick out from her classmates or seem strange, Callie reluctantly tries to blend in until plans to replace Halloween with Autumn Fest . . . force her to stand up for what she believes. Independent-minded readers will relate to the disgruntled heroine as she hatches a plan to bring fun and creativity back to Halloween."

"Middle school has lots of rules: Don’t cross over to the "boys’ side" of the cafeteria, don’t eat lunch, dress like the popular kids, don’t ride your bike to school. Callie also makes up a few of her own: "Monks have the right idea. If you never open your mouth, you get into a lot less trouble." When the mother of a popular girl launches a crusade in their small town to turn the local Halloween celebration into a vanilla-flavored "Autumn Fest," she launches an opposing effort that gets her into plenty of hot water but also makes a strong case for the value of freethinking. . . . Callie herself is both funny and resourceful."

"Callie is a wonderful and believable character who has all the self-consciousness of adolescence but brave enough to stand up and speak her mind. Zucker does a fantastic job of illustrating a common experience of puberty—how mortifying one’s family can be by virtue of just being themselves, but absolutely loving them the way they are."
—Jill Barton, Ingram Library Services: Inside Kids

"Zucker shoots an ambitious arc for Callie's emotional and artistic growth, but nestles her in a warm, kind, and extraordinary family, which provides her with the courage to overcome peer anxiety, and the lawyerlike discernment to break the 'dumb' rules while honoring the necessary ones . . . . Readers will cheer on this emotionally complex, budding writer."
—Starred review, School Library Journal, Sept. 2009

"Callie is a wonderful and believable character who has all the self-consciousness of adolescence but [is] brave enough to stand up and speak her mind. . . . This book is a solid choice for young readers who get fed up with stupid rules and want to see the rules get their comeuppance."
Ingram Library Services, July 16, 2009