Author(s): Amy Adeney
Turning Cartwheels tells the story of Emma's desperation to join Carly's Cartwheel Club, who show off their acrobatic tricks in the playground at lunchtime. Week after week, Emma lines up for a try-out, only to be told by Carly that she hasn't made the cut. When Emma is finally accepted, she finds that Carly's rules and requirements take all the joy out of cartwheeling, and that being part of the gang isn't as awesome as she expected.
While the book deals with themes of determination, persistence and self-confidence, the main idea that it explores is bullying -- in particular, the subtle, underhanded bullying often experienced by primary school-aged girls. Specifically, the character of Carly represents the 'frenemy' that many young girls encounter -- a strong, popular girl who seems to be their friend, but whose behaviour is often actually manipulative and mean. While girls often gravitate towards these 'frenemies', preferring to stay on their good side and remain part of their social group, Turning Cartwheels introduces the idea that there are alternatives, and that children should choose their friends based on kindness, and having fun together.