Posted in Fiction, Fiction, Middle Grade, Tween Reads, Uncategorized

My Life in Dioramas: A touching middle grade book about family, change, and holding on

MyLifeDioramasMy Life in Dioramas, by Tara Altebrando (Apr 2015, Running Press) $14.95, ISBN: 9780762456826

Recommended for ages 9-14

Kate Marino has spent her life in Big Red, her wonderfully large, rambling house. But her parents are having financial trouble, and have to put Big Red up for sale and move in with her grandparents – just as Kate’s dancing class is about to compete for the very first time! Kate’s world coming feels like it’s coming to an end, and begins crafting dioramas of her life at Big Red as she and her friends try to think of ways to turn potential buyers off of a sale.

I loved this story. Ms. Altebrando takes a sobering look at life for many families today and finds the spark of hope, the humor, and ultimately, the ability to move on. Kate is a wonderful main character that middle graders will love. The ideas she and her friends come up with to discourage potential buyers are hilarious and innocent rather than mean-spirited.  We see the stress of the family’s financial situation affecting Kate, but also, her family, particularly through her mother’s fight with depression. Using a popular school project – the diorama – as a vehicle to advance the plot and take readers through Big Red’s story – as much a character in this book as anyone else – immediately invests the reader.

Tara Altebrando’s author page offers more information about her other books, including Roomies, a YALSA 2015 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers selection,co-authored with Sara Zarr. My Life in Dioramas hit shelves this week, so please check with your local bookseller and pick up a copy. You’ll be glad you did, and so will your kids/students/and so on.

Check out this great book trailer for My Life in Dioramas, made by Teeny Tiny Filmworks, a group of young filmmakers.

My Life in Dioramas from Teeny Tiny Filmworks on Vimeo.


I'm a mom, a children's librarian, bibliophile, and obsessive knitter. I'm a pop culture junkie and a proud nerd, and favorite reads usually fall into Sci-Fi/Fantasy. I review comics and graphic novels at WhatchaReading ( I'm also the co-founder of On Wednesdays We Wear Capes (, where I discuss pop culture and geek fandom from a female point of view.

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