"Finally" by Wendy Mass; Scholastic ($16.99)

This is the hilarious story of Rory, a girl who has waited all her life to turn 12 and do the things her overprotective parents have never allowed her to do: stay home alone, get a cell phone, baby-sit, shave her legs, get her ears pierced, wear makeup, drink coffee, get a pet. Her parents have never even allowed her to sit in the front seat of the car!

One by one Rory tackles the challenges on her list, only to experience one disaster after another, whether it's getting constant calls on her new cell phone from people trying to reach Johnny's Pizzeria to having an extreme allergic reaction to the "all-natural" makeup. (The shaving-her-legs experience is so gruesome you might get dizzy reading it!)

Against the drama of her personal life is excitement at school where a movie is being filmed starring every girls' secret crush. And Rory is picked to be an extra!

Mass offers a most appealing heroine in Rory, and the classroom settings and trauma of middle school all ring true.

-- Jean Westmoore



Ladybug Bombe

Raspberry sorbet, softened

Chocolate ice cream, softened

Black licorice laces

2 Junior Mints

Dark cocoa chocolate melts

Line a metal bowl (ours had a 6-cup capacity) with plastic wrap, overhanging the edges. Put the bowl in the freezer for 30 minutes, then fill two thirds with the raspberry sorbet. We used about 1 1/4 pints, but you may need more or less, depending on the size of your bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze until firm, about 45 minutes.

Fill the remaining third of the bowl with chocolate ice cream, then freeze for 5 hours, or overnight.

Thirty minutes before decorating, put a 12-inch or larger platter in the freezer. To unmold the bombe, dip the bowl up to the rim in warm water for a few seconds, then turn it upside down on the platter and lift off the bowl. Tip: If the bowl doesn't release, cover it with a warm dish towel for a few seconds and try again. Once the bombe is on the platter, smooth the ice cream with a wide spatula or the back of a large spoon, then put the bombe in the freezer for a few minutes to harden.

Decorate the ladybug with the licorice, mints and chocolate melts as shown. Keep frozen until ready to serve. Serves 8.

-- McClatchy Newspapers