Written in a similar style to Jacqueline Wilson, I’m So Not a Pop Star cleverly uses a mixture of normal prose and blogs written by the main character Sam.  It is fun and fast-moving with lots of exciting events, like a Day of the Dead Celebration.  The story follows Sam and her family, who are the stars of their own reality TV show because Sam’s big sister Danni is a pop star.  Sam has always wanted to know more about her father who died when she is little, and her mum finally reveals the little she knows, turning Sam and Danni’s world upside down.

Warning… the remainder of the book review and the discussion questions contain spoilers!

While it is revealed that Danni’s paternal grandparents were Holocaust survivors, very little information is given about what that actually entailed.  Sam has read The Diary of Anne Frank. In fact she notes in her blog that it is one of her favourite books, so that aids her understanding of the events her grandparents may have experienced.  The author Kimberly Greene seems almost apologetic about taking her book into the past: “I know it’s a majorly long time ago but we’re talking about grandparents, so it makes sense that we’d have to deal with history, right?”  When Sam and Danni meet their long-lost grandfather, more of his story is revealed, little by little. 

I’m So Not a Pop Star is therefore a gentle introduction to the Holocaust.  The reader is taken on their own journey, discovering more as Sam does.  The experiences of Sam’s grandfather are a minor sub-plot to the book, while informative about the Holocaust, the book remains light-hearted. 

It would be suitable for readers aged 13 and above, and although it is a sequel, it can be read standalone novel.

Discussion question

1)    Why is Sam so keen to find out more about her grandfather?

2)    Why is the grandfather reluctant to talk about what he went through?

3)    The main focus of the book is on Danni’s status as a pop star. How does the discovery that her grandfather is a Holocaust survivor change that?

4)    Sam and Danni’s father is hardly mentioned in the book, and once they find their grandfather, he is almost forgotten. Why do you think that is?

5)    What is the significance of the dog Red? Does this help our understanding of what the grandfather went through?

6)    What do you think happens next?

Suggestions for further reading

  • Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
  • The Promise: The Moving Story of a Family in the Holocaust by Eva Schloss
  • When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr
  • The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank
  • Once by Moris Gleitzman
  • Now by Moris Gleitzman
  • Then by Moris Gleitzman
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak