Review: It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel

Aint-So-Awful-FalafelBook: It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel (2016)
Author: Firoozeh Dumas
Genre: MG, Near Historical [1970s]
Rating: 4 stars

Basic plot: Cindy’s family comes from Iran. Her real name is Zomorod, but she thinks she’d rather be called “Cindy” as she attempts to navigate middle school life in the U.S. But it’s the 1970s and things over in Iran aren’t going well. When news of the Iran Hostage Crisis hits, suddenly her dad loses his job and people are telling her to go back home to Iran. What can she and her family do?

WHAT’S COOL…

1) This is a very relaxed book in many ways. It’s set in the late 1970s and there’s a lot of nostalgia here. It does take some time to get to the hostage crisis.

2) The relationship between Cindy and Brock is nicely developed. As her friend Carolyn points out, you can tell they “like” each other, but I’m glad it’s just kept at the mutual-crush stage. I really don’t like it when middle-grade books put in some kissing scene, and I’m happy this book doesn’t go there. It just remains sweet and awkward and… well, sweet.

3) The friendship between the girls is lovely! Even when others are telling her family to go home, the girls (Carolyn, Rachel, and Dewey) stick by Cindy. The Halloween scenes are especially fun.

4) The parents are hilarious. I love the bit about the mom and how she’s always trying to force-feed everybody. Like with Skip and the grape-leaves. And the father is a really good dad. I just love his support of his daughter.

5) The theme of kindness is much needed in our world today. I love how she quotes from A Streetcar Named Desire (about the kindness of strangers)… and that’s true when it comes to characters like Skip (one of my favourites! He’s also the guy who speaks the words of the book’s title…) But really it’s more the kindness of friends that help Cindy and her family out.

WHAT’S NOT COOL…

1) I found the book a little long. We don’t get to the hostage part until over half-way through the book. It actually sat on my night table for quite a while before I decided to read it, and I think that may have been because of the page count.

FINAL THOUGHTS

My rating is 4 Stars (out of 5) – I loved Cindy/Zomorod. She was a likable character. And reading this book was definitely meant to feature her character. I loved the historical setting and learned a lot about Iranian customs.


YOUR TURN…

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday

Review: All of Me

all-of-meBook: All of Me (2019)
Author: Chris Baron
Genre: MG, Contemporary
Rating: 4 stars

Basic plot: Ari has to deal with bullies who make fun of his weight. He can’t help being hungry all the time, can he? But, when he reaches a point of self-harm, his mother finally steps in. He’s going on a diet! It’s hard, but Ari perseveres. But he still has struggles with his dad leaving, his friend Lisa not answering his calls, and his mother not really understanding him. On top of it all, he’s working toward his bar mitzvah. Little by little, Ari grows to accept who he is, while at the same time accepting that he can’t change everything.

WHAT’S COOL…

1) I was really rooting for Ari in this book. I thought his struggles with his weight were realistic. I like that we get to see the process of a transformation. Not that he becomes the skinny kid, but he becomes the person he wants to be.

2) I’m so glad Ari has friends in the story. He still has to deal with the teasing and such, but it’s not like he’s completely alone. But, I’m also glad that those friendships aren’t depicted as perfect. Like the friendship with Lisa. And even the part where Pick abandons him on the bike path to hide.

3) The calls with Gretchen were cute! I was expecting a little surprise there that didn’t quite happen, but I still enjoyed this part of the story.

4) One of my favourite parts is when the diet book “drowns”. Very clever way to deal with that part of the story.

5) I loved the Rabbi! Yes, he was a great addition to the cast of adults. I loved how he just talked to Ari, encouraged and helped him.

6) The book was written in blank verse. I thought it worked pretty well in this book.

7) Loved the ending when Ari goes back to school and sees his old bullies for the first time since school got out for the summer.

WHAT’S NOT COOL…

1) While I liked the camping part, I had a hard time believing the parents would let their kids go on that trip alone. Overnight. By themselves.

FINAL THOUGHTS

My rating is 4 Stars (out of 5) – I would highly recommend this book. Not all people share Ari’s problem, but everybody has something about them that they don’t like. In this book, Ari does some serious soul-searching. And I really like that it ends on a very positive note!


YOUR TURN…

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday

Newbery Verdict: Dear Mr. Henshaw

dear-mr-henshawDear Mr. Henshaw // by Beverly Cleary (1983)

Newbery Winner (1984)
Genre: MG, Contemporary/Epistolary
Rating: 5 Stars

Basic Plot: Leigh Botts loves the book Ways to Amuse a Dog so much that he decides to write the author: Mr. Henshaw. Through a series of letters (and later a diary), Leigh finds an outlet to work through his problems that range from a lunch-thief to his absentee dad.

MY THOUGHTS…

This is probably my second read-through of this book. And while I knew the ending, I found this book just as interesting to read this second time around. (For some odd reason, I never read Beverly Cleary’s books when I was a kid. Yes, I saw them everywhere, but for some reason, I never picked them up. Not until I was an adult!)

I love a good epistolary novel… when it works. And this one works very nicely. My favourite letter is the first one, which reads as follows:

Dear Mr. Henshaw,
My teacher read your book about the dog to our class. It was funny. We licked it.
Your friend,
Leigh Botts (boy)

I love how Cleary is able to capture the voice of this boy, misspellings and all. Another section I really enjoyed was when Leigh gives Mr. Henshaw a list of questions, and Mr. Henshaw replies with a list of his own questions… which Leigh does NOT want to answer! But, of course, his mom makes him.

I like how it also deals with the hard topics in Leigh’s life, like the divorce of his parents. Now, I like a book where divorced parents get back together (Parent Trap, anybody?) And of course, that is Leigh’s own wish. While the ending of this book does present this as an option, it remains realistic. Most couples don’t get back together. As Leigh says in the final line: “I felt sad and a whole lot better at the same time.”

NEWBERY VERDICT…

This book deserved every inch of its Newbery award. It’s wonderfully written, has a likable protagonist. And yes, I licked it very much. (P.S. Now I want to read Mr. Henshaw’s books, but for some reason, I can’t find them anywhere!)

YOUR TURN…

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments!


Newbery Verdict Reading Challenge: This is a personal challenge for me to read books that have either won the Newbery Medal or are a Newbery Honor book. The Newbery is named for eighteenth-century British bookseller John Newbery. Since 1922, this annual award has given to the author of the “most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.” A Newbery Honor book is given to the runners-up.

Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday

Winter Reading Bingo Challenge / January

mgc-bingo-jan2020

It’s time again for another round of Middle Grade Carousel’s Reading Bingo challenge!

This month, I finished nine middle-grade books that fit the descriptions on the bingo card.

How Does It Work?

Pick your challenge, grab a book, and fill in the squares. Try and get 5 in a row, or attempt to fill in the whole sheet if you’re a speedy reader.

Rules

  1. Because this is a #MGCarousel challenge, all of the books on your Bingo board should be MG reads.
  2. Each square needs to be filled with a unique book. You cannot use the same title more than once, even if it fits multiple themes. Choose wisely!
  3. You should only be filling in your Bingo board with books you’ve read during this month.

Here are my results…


Box on the Cover

It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel // by Firoozeh Dumas

Aint-So-Awful-FalafelMG, Near-Historical (2017)

I loved the story of Cindy (aka Zomorod, which is her Iranian name). She was a likable character. And reading this book was definitely meant to feature her character. I loved the historical setting and learned a lot about Iranian customs.

The historical setting is great. The Iran Hostage Crisis (which is featured in the book) doesn’t occur until halfway through the book. This makes the story a little long. But other than that, I really enjoyed the themes, the friendships, the troubles that are explored in this book. [4 stars]

Full Review coming soon.


‘Lock’ or ‘Key’ in the Title

code-breakers-1The Secret of the Skeleton Key // by Penny Warner

Lower MG, Mystery (2011)

I think the fun about this book has to do with all the different codes. Seriously, there’s a different type of code for each message, including sign language. My favourite, I think, is the semaphore code. And the book doesn’t give away the solution to each code so YOU get to solve it as it comes.

For me, as an adult, I didn’t find the story to be super engaging. But kids will probably like it. This would be a perfect book for kids who enjoy solving puzzles and codes. [3 stars]


Pick Your Prompt / An Epistolary Novel

sure-signs-crazySure Signs of Crazy // by Karen Harrington

MG, Contemporary (2013)

This isn’t quite a true epistolary novel, but it does contain letters, and in many ways, it does read like it’s a diary. It’s the story of Sarah. She doesn’t know her mother because, when she was two, she (the mother) attempted to drown Sarah and succeeding in drowning Sarah’s twin, Simon. Sarah’s worried that she might end up mentally ill like her mom. She doesn’t feel she can confide in her dad (who has a drinking problem… and that’s kind of understandable; but not helpful to a daughter who needs you.)

So, Sarah begins to write to the dad she wishes she had: Atticus Finch. And through the letters, and with the help of some neighbours, Sarah begins to work through her anxieties. And get her dad some help. [4 stars]


‘Brave’ or ‘Fear’ in the Title

igraine-the-braveIgraine the Brave // by Cornelia Funke

MG, Fantasy (1998)

Igraine wants to be a knight! When her magician parents make a tiny mistake and turn into pigs, it’s up to their daughter to go on a quest to save the day… and the castle.

A fun book, Igraine is a very likable character. I love the little touches… Like the Sorrowful Knight. Or the castle called Pimpernel! And how the mother is referred to as the Fair Melisande. And even how the brother (Albert, a magician-in-training) can only conjure up blue eggs and dry biscuits, no matter what! [4 stars]


Red Cover

Firegirl // by Tony Abbott

fire-girlMG, Contemporary (2006)

This is an interesting what-if story. What if a girl is burned so badly in a fire… and then has to go to a new school… how would her new classmates treat her? The story is told through the eyes of Tom. I actually liked the complexity of emotions of this book. I enjoyed the subplot of the two friends (Tom and Jeff) and the uncle’s special “car”. Throughout, the reader isn’t sure if Jeff is lying or what. And when you find out, there’s another dilemma that Tom has to face.

The one thing I did not quite find believable is the fact that the parents choose to send their daughter (Jessica) to face school in her situation. Especially, since she is still recovering. But, in spite of that, if I can put that aside, I did like the themes that the book explored. And overall, I enjoyed this story.

And for some reason, I really like that cover! [4 stars]


Other MG Books I Finished this Month…

  • A Pretty Book Cover // Roll // by Darcy Miller
  • Character’s Name in the Title // Dear Mr. Henshaw // by Beverly Cleary
  • Set in a Small Town // The Only Girl in School // by Natalie Standiford
  • A Ladder on the Cover // The Case of the Missing Moonstone // by Jordan Stratford

Final Thoughts…

January Bingo: Complete! Have you read any of these books? Let me know what you thought of them.

For February’s challenge, go to https://elymnifoquent.com

Note: I’m also posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday

Review: Roll

rollBook: Roll (2017)
Author: Darcy Miller
Genre: MG, Contemporary
Rating: 3.5 stars

Basic plot: Ren and his family have moved out of town to his grandma’s old farmhouse in the country. Under his dad’s guidance, he’s in training to run cross-country. During one early morning run, he meets Sutton, the (new) girl next door, and discovers that she’s training Birmingham Roller Pigeons. As Ren tries to find his footing (how to relate to the best friend he left behind, how to improve his run times, etc), he also finds himself drawn to Sutton and her pigeons. Now, if only he can get the courage to tell his dad that he doesn’t want to be a great athlete.

WHAT’S COOL…

1) The Birmingham Roller Pigeons were pretty cool. Had to look them up on youtube because I have never heard of this before.

2) I like the friendship that develops between Sutton and Ren, especially how they bond over the pigeons. And with the pigeons!

3) I enjoyed Ren’s voice in this book. I liked his nerdiness and how his narration showed that part of him.

4) The comic book thread was a fun aspect of the book. Ren is obsessed with old British comics, ones I’m not familiar with. But sure enough, when I looked them up online, I find that they do indeed exist. (I like how Ren and Sutton watch the old Adam West Batman show!)

5) I also liked how the whole cross-country running thing turned out. Ren’s dad is a runner and Ren expects that he needs to be a runner as well. And even though he tries, Sutton sees the truth. Ren just doesn’t quite LOVE running the way his dad does.

WHAT’S NOT COOL…

1) I had a hard time envisioning how Sutton was “training” her pigeons. I got how they flew, but what was she doing to actually “train” them?

2) Ren’s real name is Lauren, which he tells us (right away) that he hates. (I don’t blame him.) Then why does he introduce himself to several people as Lauren? Why not just say that his name is Ren. This did not make sense to me.

FINAL THOUGHTS

My rating is 3 Stars (out of 5) – I liked the book. The bit about the roller pigeons was pretty fascinating. Who knew that actually existed!


YOUR TURN…

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday

Review: Mo Wren, Lost and Found

mo-wren-2Book: Mo Wren, Lost and Found (2011)
Author: Tricia Springstubb
Genre: MG, Contemporary
Rating: 3.5 stars

Basic plot: Mo Wren and her family are moving away from Fox Street. Her dad wants to start his own restaurant. Mo feels more lost than found in this whole new neighbourhood, while Dottie seems to have no trouble at all in fitting in. But when their dad has difficulty securing a loan, Mo’s new “friends” at the laundromat step in and get things rolling.

WHAT’S COOL…

1) I really enjoyed the sisterly bond between Mo and Dottie. I like the one scene where Dottie just takes off and Mo’s like: “Fine! Go. I don’t care.” But then she goes off to find her because she is her sister after all. I really loved how that fits in later on in the book with Carmella.

2) Da! Man, I love this old lady. (I’m a sucker for books about kids making friends with old people!) I was really scared that the author was going to kill her off, especially when Mo’s dad gets a “certain phone call”. But, fortunately, that didn’t happen. (Not sure why this old lady is called “Da”, but she is.)

3) At the beginning, there’s a nice little bit about how Mo’s dad chooses a poorer family to buy their old house instead of selling it to the rich people. I loved how that comes back into the story in a way that helps Mr. Wren out.

4) The theme of moving and moving on was knit into the fabric of this story. I loved how the different threads all came together. I’ve had to move from homes and neighbourhoods I’ve loved dearly, so I really did identify well with this part of the story. I think Tricia Springstubb was able to capture the bittersweetness of this topic very well.

5) The part featuring Handsome (the lizard) was quite cute. I like how Dottie chooses a lizard for a pet!

WHAT’S NOT COOL…

1) This did have a slow start for me. I wasn’t really invested in the story until later in the book.

FINAL THOUGHTS

My rating is 3.5 Stars (out of 5) – This is actually the second book about Mo Wren. I have never read the first, but that didn’t seem to matter too much. Although, perhaps that accounts for the slow start for me. Hmmm. This book would be good for fans of the Penderwicks!


YOUR TURN…

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday

Review: The Mystery of Black Hollow Lane

mystery-black-hollow-laneBook: The Mystery of Black Hollow Lane (2019)
Author: Julia Nobel
Genre: MG, Mystery
Rating: 4 stars

Basic plot: Emmy gets sent over to England to attend a boarding school while her mother travels for work. But before she leaves, Emmy discovers a mysterious box and note. It all has something to do with the death of her father, something that Mom refuses to discuss. At the new school, Emmy makes friends with two outcasts… she also makes plenty of enemies. Not to mention the fact that the mystery of her father remains out of her grasp until it’s might be too late. That’s when Emmy discovers a secret that might just lead to her own demise.

WHAT’S COOL…

1) Boarding schools! What is it about the magic of boarding schools. I’m not sure I’d actually want to live at one, but I sure like to read about them. Not to mention there are secret passages and underground lairs.

2) Emmy outcast friends are the kind of friends I’d love to have. Jack and Lola really do have her back. They make quite a team.

3) I liked the little twist about who Emmy could and could not trust. I thought it was set up nicely.

4) I liked the bit about the priest. It was a nice memorable scene. I suspected something, but it turned out to be a little different than I thought.

5) The door is left open for a sequel, but it is a stand-alone novel.

6) The cover of the novel fits in very well with the style and “flavour” of this book.

WHAT’S NOT COOL…

1) I thought Julia Nobel missed an opportunity with the different words “soccer” vs. “football”. In the book, Emmy’s American mom makes her promises not to play soccer. I was convinced she’d somehow get past this by saying she was playing “football” not “soccer”. But, that didn’t happen. Not a huge deal…

FINAL THOUGHTS

My rating is 4 Stars (out of 5) – If you like dark secrets and mysteries, then this is the book for you! Emmy’s a likeable protagonist along with her new friends at the school. And she’s up against some shady dealings.


YOUR TURN…

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday

Winter Reading Bingo Challenge / December

mgc-bingo-dec2019

It’s time again for another round of Middle Grade Carousel’s Reading Bingo challenge!

This month, I finished nine middle-grade books that fit the descriptions on the bingo card. (I got an arrow!!)

How Does It Work?

Pick your challenge, grab a book, and fill in the squares. Try and get 5 in a row, or attempt to fill in the whole sheet if you’re a speedy reader.

Rules

  1. Because this is a #MGCarousel challenge, all of the books on your Bingo board should be MG reads.
  2. Each square needs to be filled with a unique book. You cannot use the same title more than once, even if it fits multiple themes. Choose wisely!
  3. You should only be filling in your Bingo board with books you’ve read during this month.

Here are my results…


Books on the Cover

Words on Fire // by Jennifer A. Nielsen

words-on-fireMG, Historical (2019)

When her parents are taken by the Cossacks, Audra is thrust into their life of book smuggling. She learns that people like her parents risk their lives in order to keep the Lithuanian culture alive, even in the face of Russian occupation.

I liked Audra’s spunk. And I really liked Lukas and his determination. They played nicely off each other! I should have expected some of the twists Nielsen often brings to her stories, but I really didn’t see them until they were about to be revealed.

I did find the story a bit slow in spots, otherwise, I would have given it a higher rating. [3.5 stars]


Natural Disasters

The Pompeii Disaster // by Dan Gutman

pompeii-disasterMG, Contemporary/Time Travel (2018)

Note: This book is technically the third book in a series. The Flashback Four are a group of kids that time travel to various important events in history to… get this… take a photograph of said event. This book’s focus: Pompeii. And as you can probably guess, things won’t go smoothly with a volcano about to erupt.

The kids have to take a picture of the historical event, but that’s about it. But, I’ve included it in my list because it is kind of neat to think of having a photograph of Mount Vesuvius about to bury the city of Pompeii in ash. Wow, just wow! [3 stars]


Pick Your Prompt / A Book About Grief

The Elephant // by Peter Carnavas

elephantLower MG, Contemporary (2017)

This is a sweet book about a girl who just wants her dad to fix her bike. But that is even a little too simplistic. Really, what she wants is her dad to be a dad. The elephant, of course, is a metaphor. Something that continually follows around after her dad. It’s invisible and only Olive can see it.

Ultimately, this book is a story about grief and how we deal with grief. It’s an interesting choice to show the grief felt by the father and others in the story. Told in short, easy-to-read chapters. The illustrations add a nice touch. This book is definitely intended for younger readers. Although, I thoroughly enjoyed it as an adult. [4 stars]


‘Guide’ in the Title

Wildlife Watcher Guide // by Michael Leach and Meriel Lland

wildlife-watcher-guideMG, Non-Fiction (2016)

This was a nice little how-to guide for beginner photographers. It focuses on how to get the shots of wildlife.

I especially enjoyed the little interviews with the authors (photographers themselves) sprinkled throughout the book. Many of the photos are stunning, although I doubt any child will be able to travel to get such shots. But it is inspiring. They also do give tips on how to take photos in your own backyard.   [3 stars]


Three Words in the Title

A Little Princess // by Frances Hodgeson Burnett

a-little-princessMG, Classic (1890)

A re-read for me. The riches to rags back to riches story always holds some magic in it. In many ways, Sara Crewe is a more modern (in you can call 1890 modern) version of Cinderella. She has the kindness and sweetness and optimism of Cinderella. And Miss Minchin plays a wonderful evil stepmother-type character.

While I still like The Secret Garden better, this book comes in a close second. (And to tell the truth, I do think I’d prefer Sara as a friend a little more than Mary Lennox. At least, the Mary at the beginning of the story!) [4.5 stars]


Other MG Books I Finished this Month…

  • Book About Siblings // Planet Earth is Blue // by Nicole Panteleakos
  • Purple Cover // Counting on Grace // by Elizabeth Wintrop
  • Author’s Name is Chris // Elijah of Buxton // by Christopher Paul Curtis
  • Piano on the Cover // Who Was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart // by Yona Zeldis McDonough

Final Thoughts…

December Bingo: Complete! Have you read any of these books? Let me know what you thought of them.

For January’s challenge, go to https://elymnifoquent.com

Note: I’m also posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday

Review: Sunny Rolls the Dice

sunny-rolls-diceBook: Sunny Rolls the Dice (2019)
Author: Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm
Genre: MG, Near Historical/Graphic Novel [1970s]
Rating: 3 Stars

Basic Plot: This is the third book in the Sunny series! Sunny is a middle-schooler in the late 1970s and she’s all about checking her Groovy-meter. How groovy is Sunny? Well… not very. She and her friend join the neighbourhood boys in learning to play D&D. But when her friend loses interest in the game, now Sunny isn’t sure if she should continue either.

WHAT’S COOL…

1) I was glad to return to the world of Sunny with this book.

2) I like Sunny’s friendship with Deb and how things start to change between them. It’s good to talk about peer pressure; and I like how Sunny learns that friends don’t have to do everything together.

3) I’ve never really played D&D before (Dungeons and Dragons), so I did find that interesting. Although, it doesn’t seem like a game I would obsess about. I will say that the cover did confuse me, but once you understand the D&D connection, it makes more sense.

4) The nostalgia of the 1970s is definitely one of the best parts of this book.

5) I love it when Gramps shows up! I just wish he was in it more. (Him and Dale!)

WHAT’S NOT COOL…

1) Sunny’s older brother Dale is missing from the plot of this story. (Note: He does make an appearance in this book, but it’s very peripheral.) While I’m glad for his sake, I think the conflict he brings to the other stories is what makes them a tiny bit better than this one.

FINAL THOUGHTS…

My rating is 3 Stars (out of 5) – I liked this book almost as much as I’ve liked the other books in the series. It’s lacking something. Maybe it’s the struggle and conflict that was always there in the form of the Dale plot line. Still a good read, even if just for the “groovy meter”.


YOUR TURN…

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday

Review: Planet Earth is Blue

planet-earth-blueBook: Planet Earth is Blue (2019)
Author: Nicole Panteleakos
Genre: MG, Near Historical [1986]
Rating: 4.5 stars

Basic plot: Nova is autistic and pretty much nonverbal. She loves all things “space” and is excited about the upcoming launch of the 1986 Challenger Space Shuttle. She knows that older sister Bridget promised to watch it with her, and Bridget is the one person in Nova’s world that is always there for her.

WHAT’S COOL…

1) So, I love near historical novels… Not surprised that this one (that takes place in 1986) interested me. Of course, knowing that this book is centered around the Challenger was bittersweet. I loved how the author was able to incorporate that into the story. (One of the scenes that takes place prior to the launch is the incident where Nova is playing with her toy astronauts in the attic.)

2) The relationship between Nova and her sister Bridget is told mostly from Nova’s “letters” to Bridget. This is a very clever way to give us Nova’s thoughts when she rarely speaks in the story. It was also a great way to get to know (and love) Bridget the way Nova knew (and loved) her.

3) I loved Nova’s foster family. (The one she’s with, not the ones from her past.) It’s nice to see a family that knows how to work with Nova and accept her for a person. Both parents are great, and so is Joanie the college-aged daughter.

4) All the pop-culture references were spot on with their thematic significance, even ones that don’t seem to be at first. (I’m looking at you, Bridge to Terabithia poster!) I wasn’t too familiar with David Bowie’s song Space Oddity (which is quoted from extensively in the book, even lending a lyric to the title of the book!), but the other references were fun throwbacks to childhood in the 1980s.

5) I do like the cover. Nicely done. 🙂

WHAT’S NOT COOL…

1) I did NOT like how she did the Neil Armstrong quote in the book: “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” In 1986, we did NOT use the word “a”, and nobody I knew ever made fun of Armstrong for saying it that way. Of course, it does make more sense with the “a”, but if we want to be historical, Nova would not have known the quote with the “a”. That really, truly bothered me!!!! (Okay, I’m calm again. Rant over.)

FINAL THOUGHTS

My rating is 4.5 Stars (out of 5) – I know it’s written for kids, but this is the type of book that may be more interesting to the adult reader. That said, I really did enjoy it. It does have some sadness in it, so be warned (but if you know what happens to the Challenger, you should already know that).


YOUR TURN…

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday