Posted in Realistic Fiction, Teen, Young Adult/New Adult

Live, Love, Theatre: Kate in Waiting

Kate in Waiting, by Becky Albertalli, (April 2021, Balzer + Bray), $18.99, ISBN: 9780062643834

Ages 14+

The best-selling, award-winning author of Simon and the Homo Sapiens Agenda and Leah and the Offbeat is back with her latest YA novel! Kate Garfield and her best friend, Anderson Walker, are high school juniors who have communal crushes. It’s their thing. But when their latest shared crush from drama camp ends up as a student at their high school, things get a little uncomfortable. Matt is sweet, funny, and is a theatre fan, just like they are. He’s cast in the school production of Once Upon a Mattress as Kate’s love interest; he’s in the same drama class as Anderson, while Kate is left out. Kate and Anderson realize that this is not a usual passing crush, and have to figure out how to navigate these new waters while still maintaining their bestie status. There’s great character development here, and discussions between Kate and Anderson touch on some sensitive points like being gay, out, and Black in the U.S. South; splitting a life between homes when one’s parents are divorced, and images versus reality when it comes to “bro culture” (or, as they’re often referred to in Kate in Waiting, “f-boys”). The dialogue is wonderful, realistic, and smart; friendships withstand ebbs and flows of daily teen life. It’s just an all-around great YA novel that should be a big book this summer. Theatre kids will love the process of seeing a production come together, and teens will love the smart, funny writing that breaks your heart and puts it back together again.

Kate in Waiting has starred reviews from Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, and made the Indie Next Great Reads list.

Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Graphic Novels, Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction, Tween Reads

CYBILS graphic novels check-in

The CYBILS Round One reading goes on. I’ve read 60 of 107 nominees so far, and my shortlist… well, it’s pretty long. I’ll be going through my shortlist a few times and talking books with my other Round One judges before we can provide the next round with a shortlist to go to, but it won’t be easy. There’s been some good stuff written and illustrated this year. While I can’t go into too much detail, since these are more nominees, I didn’t want them to be missed. Enjoy.

Stepping Stones, by Lucy Knisley, (Sept. 2020, RH Graphic), $20.99, ISBN: 9780593125243

Ages 8-12

I am a Lucy Knisley fan, and I’m excited that she’s writing graphic novels, in her autobiographical style, for middle graders. This is her first middle grade book, a fictionalized story of her life when she and her mom moved to a farm with her mother’s boyfriend. In the story, Jen is not happy about leaving her life in the city to live on a farm with her mom, her mom’s bossy boyfriend, Walter, and Walter’s two daughters, Andy and Reese, who spend every weekend with their dad. Jen thinks Andy is bossy and a know-it-all, like her dad, and Reese is weepy and cries for her mom. Gradually, the three girls become friends – stepsisters, even – as they start talking and discover that they’re not worlds different, after all. An author’s note gives readers the real details about Lucy Knisley’s farm years, complete with photos. Her storytelling style makes readers feel like they’re reading her journal or diary; her artwork is cartoony realistic, perfect for Raina Telgemeier and Victoria Jameson fans. You’ll love the farmer’s market scenes, where Jen finally asserts herself and owns her talent, and the nature scenes make you realize why Jen’s mother packed up and left the city for greener pastures. Pick up Stepping Stones if you’ve never read a Lucy Knisley book before, then look up her other books for yourself.

Dungeon Critters, by Natalie Riess and Sara Goetter, (Sept. 2020, First Second), $14.99, ISBN: 9781250195470

Ages 9-13

If your Dungeons & Dragons campaign was made up of furry animal friends, you’d have Dungeon Critters. A group of animal adventurers are on the case to uncover a mysterious plant and a sinister plot, all surrounding Chirp – one of the adventurers, and a member of the royal family – and longtime rival, The Baron. Go on dungeon crawls, dance at fancy balls, and join the Dungeon Critters on their quests for adventure, as they figure out their complicated feelings for one another. It’s a fun adventure, cartoony, colorful artwork, frenetic energy, and tons of jokes. Gender and sexuality are fluid – Chirp, for instance, has she/her pronouns but is a prince; Rose and Juniper are two Dungeon Critters who have she/her pronouns and are crushing on each other. A positive, diverse, fun adventure for middle graders.

Posted in Fiction, Fiction, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Intermediate, Middle Grade

American Girl Trio: Melody, Nanea, and Julie

Everyone is pretty aware of American Girl, the toy and book phenomenon that sent kids running to the stores for an experience – tea party, clothing selection, matching outfits – before Build-a-Bear got involved. The American Girl novels have big fans in every library where I’ve worked, but I never thought to pick up and read any of them for myself. But I received three from the publisher, so I figured, what the heck? Let’s see what these are about. I have to say, I’m pretty happy with them.

The three books that I received seem to be a repackaging of American Girl’s BeForever line of historical novels. The original books look to have been published in 2016-2017; these new releases have updated cover art and the interiors are very emerging reader friendly, with both color photos and artwork throughout, making it even more appealing and reader-friendly to emerging chapter book readers.

Melody: No Ordinary Sound (American Girl: Melody), by Denise Lewis Patrick, (Aug. 2019, American Girl), $7.99, ISBN: 9781683371403

Ages 8-12

It’s 1963 in Detroit, Michigan, and 9-year-old Melody just found out that she’s going to be singing her first church solo for the Youth Day celebration. Her older brother wants to be a Motown star, while their dad wants him to go to college and pick a more stable career; her older sister comes home from college with stories of protests, marches, and registering Black voters, and her cousin’s family arrives in Detroit, because racial tension in the American South has made it almost impossible to earn a living. As Melody and her family awaken to activism, a horrific church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama takes the lives of four children and leaves Melody speechless. She has to find her voice and sing for those who can’t.

No Ordinary Sound is such powerful historical fiction for intermediate and middle grade readers. I’ve enjoyed Denise Lewis Patrick’s books in the past, so I read this American Girl book first, and am so glad I did. Her characters experience three pivotal events in civil rights history – the Detroit Walk to Freedom; the March on Washington, where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech, and the church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama – and encourage readers to see these events from a personal point of view, developing a deeper understanding of more than just the facts. Denise Lewis Patrick provides a slice of life story, where readers experience the everyday racism Melody and her family and friends experience; from being banned from buying a soda at a soda machine to being shadowed by store security at stores where they’ve been longtime customers.

No Ordinary Sound was a great introduction to the American Girl historical fiction series of books, and I’ll be sure to include this series in booklists and booktalks about civil rights and historical fiction. Melody’s books have their own page on the American Girl website, where you can read first chapter excerpts.

Civil Rights Teaching has lesson plans and resources about teaching the Civil Rights Movement, as does Facing History and Ourselves. The Grammy Museum has a lesson plan on teaching the impact of Motown. Education.com has a free, downloadable worksheet on the History of Motown, and TeachRock.org has a lesson Assembling Hits at Motown. PBS Learning Media has a teaching guide and primary source materials on The Great Migration, and National Geographic has an educator’s guide.

 

Nanea: The Spirit of Aloha (American Girl: Nanea), by Kirby Larson, (Aug. 2019, American Girl), $7.99, ISBN: 9781683371380

Ages 8-12

Nanea is a 9-year-old Hawaiian girl; she’s the youngest in her family, and feels frustrated that she can’t do grown-up things, like help in her family’s store. When Pearl Harbor is attacked by Japanese aircraft on December 7, 1941, Nanea discovers that she has to grow up quickly. Her father is a mechanic at Pearl Harbor, and rushes to help out; her older brother is an Eagle Scout, and heads to the site to hand out food and provide aid. Nanea’s Uncle Fudge is taken into custody because he’s Japanese, and Nanea is thrust into a different world with blackouts, curfews, and fear. She and her two best friends work to make themselves useful, especially when “nonessential personnel” must leave the island, which puts her friend at risk. With the spirit of aloha – love, understanding, and compassion – Nanea focuses on kokua – good deeds – to help everyone around her.

The Spirit of Aloha was another strong historical fiction piece. Kirby Larson has written likable, relatable female protagonists, and she’s done historical fiction before, so I was confident I was going to read a good story. Here, we have the main event, the bombing of Pearl Harbor, as a means to show how war makes children grow up overnight. Nanea sees her life change in moments: the bombing itself; the rounding up of Japanese people and the detention center; her fears for her father and brother as they head into the middle of the disaster to help; curfews and blackouts curtains, and the overall loss of a relatively peaceful, carefree existence. At the same time, she focuses on her culture’s principles of love, compassion, and good deeds. Kirby Larson adds touches of Hawaiian culture here, like the meaning of hula and tossing leis into the water to assure a return to Hawaii, and there’s a glossary of terms at the end. Nanea is biracial, with a Hawaiian mother and a Caucasian father, and this adds an additional facet to Nanea’s story, as she communicates with her mainland grandparents to let them know what’s going on in Hawaii.

The Spirit of Aloha is a good introduction to World War 2 historical fiction for younger readers. You can find excerpts and more about Nanea on the American Girl website.

Scholastic has a teaching guide on the attack on Pearl Harbor; Teachers Pay Teachers has some free, downloadable resources developed by fellow educators; the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum has a lesson plan on developing visual literacy by analyzing photos from December 7, 1941. The New York Times has a lesson plan on using primary sources to teach the Japanese Internment, as does the Library of Congress.

 

Julie: The Big Break (American Girl: Julie), by Megan McDonald, (Aug. 2019, American Girl), $7.99, ISBN: 9781683371328

Ages 8-12

Nine-year-old Julie has just moved to a new neighborhood and started at a new school after her parent’s divorce; she, her mother, and older sister live in an apartment above her mother’s new store. She starts at a new school and hears they have a basketball team, which is great! She loves basketball! The coach, however, makes no bones about it: the team is boys only, and he’s never going to let a girl play on his team. Julie, empowered by her tennis-playing older sister who tells her about tennis star Billie Jean King and Title IX, the law prohibiting gender discrimination in any educational programs receiving Federal financial assistance (read: public schools can’t refuse any boy or girl from playing on an athletic team). Julie embraces her newfound activism and takes to the streets, getting people to sign a petition to let her play.

The Big Break is a snapshot of the 1970s, when the second wave feminist movement was still pushing for equal rights in the workplace and in our schools. An interesting subplot with a Vietnam vet, who helps focus Julie’s activism by petitioning against the closing of a veteran’s hall, reminds readers that the ’70s were also about coping with the fallout from the Vietnam War and the vets who returned to homelessness, and a lack of necessary mental and physical health services. Julie’s sister is a burgeoning feminist who follows the Bobby Riggs-Billie Jean King Battle of the Sexes and tells Julie about Title IX, which opened the doors to school athletics for girls. At the same time, Julie is coping with her parent’s divorce – much more scandalous in the 1970s than it is today – and her feelings of grief and frustration with both her parents. Her mom appears to be a free spirit, with a ’60s-early ’70s flower child aesthetic; she’s a divorced woman entering the workplace and starting her own business venture: a store dedicated to handcrafted clothing and items, often repurposed. Julie’s pilot father often misses school events because he’s called to fill in for another pilot, and doesn’t initially support her bid to play on the boys’ basketball team.

The Big Break is by Megan McDonald, who everyone also knows as the author of the Judy Moody and Stink series! Here, she gives readers a glimpse into the 1970s, where things are so different, and yet, still the same. Girls still get grief from boys in the athletic sphere. Homeless veterans are still not getting the services they need. People now use Title IX to protect transgender and nonbinary students. And girls are still discovering and embracing their voices in activism. You can read more about Julie on her American Girl page, including first chapter excerpts.

TedEd has a lesson plan on Title IX that’s friendly to younger students. NEA Today has a good article on ways Title IX has helped women and girls; PBS has a video on Title IX; Scholastic Kids Press has an article on how Title IX changed girls’ sports. Teaching History has resources on teaching the Vietnam War.

 

Each book comes with a peek into each girls’ life: maps of their neighborhood, pictures of their families, a glimpse at someone’s room. Back matter includes overall information about each American Girls’ moment in history. American Girl makes teachers guides, readers guides, and printable activities available.

 

 

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

A boy learns to live between Here and There

Here and There, by Tamara Ellis Smith/Illustrated by Evelyn Daviddi, (March 2019, Barefoot Books), $16.99, ISBN: 9781782857419

Ages 4-8

Ivan is a biracial child who splits his time between his two homes: Here, where he lives with his mother, and There; his father’s new home. Here, Ivan is comfortable; he sits in a tree and chatters with the birds. There, he curls into a chair, pulled into himself, ignoring his father’s attempts to engage him. Dad knows how to reach his son, though: he starts playing a song on his guitar, and Ivan can’t stop the good feelings from flowing through him. As Ivan negotiates living Here and There,  he knows there is music, there are birds, and there are people who love him at each place.

Here and There is a touching story about living as a child in a divorced family. Being taken out of his comfort zone; his home, makes Ivan feel off-balance. He isn’t Here, with the familiar; he’s There. He may even feel different around his father, bein gin this different place, with his father not where he’s supposed to be. But music builds a bridge between father and son: Ivan has an affinity for music, as we s

ee early on, when he chatters with the birds in his mother’s home. Once his father’s guitar music opens the door to conversation, Ivan reaches a new comfort zone, and finds himself discovering new birds in his father’s neighborhood, too. He’s building a new life for himself, understanding and working through feeling guilty for being happier in one place or another.

Here and There will speak to many kids who split their time between two households. The text uses the concepts of “Here” and “There” to explain Ivan’s familiarity and initial discomfort  as he learns to navigate between his mother’s and father’s home.  The pencil, acrylic paint, and collage artwork presents multiracial characters with soft, gentle facial features. Back matter includes 12 different birdcalls, with phonetic pronunciation, for kids to try out. Display and booktalk with The Mirror in Mommy’s House/The Mirror in Daddy’s House by Luis Amavisca, which uses a mirror to connect a child with two households.

 

Posted in Teen, Tween Reads

An Odyssey of Her Own: Elektra’s Adventures in Tragedy

Elektra’s Adventures in Tragedy, by Douglas Rees, (May 2018, Running Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9780762463039

Ages 13+

Sixteen-year-old Elektra Kamenides was happy. She had a happy, secure life in the Mississippi college town where her father worked as a scholar on ancient Greece, and her mother, Helen, was an aspiring author. When her mother whisks Elektra and her 13-year-old sister, Thalia, out of Mississippi and away from their father, to go live on a roach-infested shack that alleges itself a houseboat in an area of California called Guadalupe Slough, Elektra is furious. Who wouldn’t be? The entire rug of her life has been pulled out from under her, and she can’t even get her father to return her calls. What is going on? Not even her sister Thalia’s endless optimism can shake Elektra, who decides she’s going to make like Odyseuss and get back to Mississippi. But like her Greek hero counterpart, the gods have other plans in store for Elektra.

Elektra’s Adventures in Tragedy peeks into the end of a marriage, a coming of age, and the strength of community. With distance, Elektra sees that the hero she made her father out to be was not necessarily the case; an emergency serves as her wakeup call to make the most of the present, and she discovers that she can survive and thrive in her new community, surrounded by her supportive neighbors. There’s good and colorful character development, including a veteran with PTSD and a Latinx family whose San Jose roots go back for generations. The cast of characters are primarily white and Latinx. There are amusing interludes at the local library, where a neighbor – and later, Elektra – takes out hundreds of books a week to keep circulation numbers strong, for the sake of keeping the library open.

I enjoyed the pace of the storytelling, the characters, the situations, and the relationships between the characters. This one is a good add to your realistic fiction collections.

Posted in Early Reader, Preschool Reads

A mirror unites a boy’s homes in The Mirror in Mommy’s House/The Mirror in Daddy’s House

The Mirror in Mommy’s House/The Mirror in Daddy’s House, by Luis Amavisca/Illustrated by Betanía Zacarías, (Apr 2016, nubeOCHO), $15.95, ISBN: 978-84-945415-5-1

Recommended for readers 4-8

A child talks about growing up in a home in the midst of a marital breakup, and how a mirror provided an escape into a wonderful land with no arguing parents. Now that the child lives in two houses, things are much better. Mom and Dad are happier, and so is the child. There are pictures of the entire family at both houses, and a very special mirror at each house; plus, Mom and Dad each share something very special: their child!

We don’t need to talk about the 51% divorce rate to illustrate the need for books like The Mirror. This is a positive book for families going through divorce for a number of reasons: it illustrates the stress on kids living with parents who argue constantly; it’s not singling out either gender – the child can easily be male or female; and the parents care enough about their child to make sure that photos of the entire family – rather than a single parent with the child – have real estate in the child’s room, along with the special mirror that’s become a touchstone. The book is a two-in-one, giving kids a chance to read about each parent’s home and what makes it special. When you finish reading about the mirror in Mommy’s house, just flip it over to read about the mirror at Daddy’s house.

The art appears to be mixed media, with some artwork appearing to be drawn in crayon; it gives the book a comfortable feeling, as if the child created these books himself or herself.

Originally published in Spanish in 2016, nubeOCHO published The Mirror book(s) in English this year and still makes the Spanish language edition available (978-84-945415-6-8). Additional books for families going through divorce to read with young children include Dinosaurs Divorce, by Laurie Krasny Brown and Marc Brown, Nancy Coffelt’s Fred Stays with Me, and Karen Stanton’s Monday, Wednesday, and Every Other Weekend.

Posted in Uncategorized

The Last Boy at St. Edith’s wants OUT!

last boyThe Last Boy at St. Edith’s, by Lee Gjersten Malone (Feb. 2016, Aladdin), $16.99, ISBN: 9781481444354

Recommended for ages 8-12

Seventh-grader, Jeremy, is not thrilled. His school, St. Edith’s, was formerly an all-girls’ school that briefly admitted boys, but it never quite caught on. He’s been counting down the number of boys leaving the school, until Andrew – #2 on his list – announced he was leaving, making Jeremy the last boy at St. Edith’s. It’s embarrassing and it’s really annoying, but his mom, who works at the school so he and his sisters can go for free, will not even consider letting him go to the local public school. Desperate, Jeremy decides to take matters into his own hands: he’s going to get expelled.

Turning to his best friend, Claudia, the two come up with a series of pranks that should do the trick. Jeremy has rules: no one gets embarrassed or hurt, and no permanent damage gets done. But the mysterious prankster’s first gag gets huge laughs, and Jeremy finds himself caught in the snowballing effect of pranking; he’s got to up the ante, but things start getting out of control. How far will Jeremy go to get thrown out?

I LOVED this book. Jeremy has a distinct voice that comes through loud and clear, and he’s got some valid arguments: he’s the butt of other school’s jokes; his own school’s teachers refer to the student body as “ladies”, so he feels humiliated in his own environment; his mother, however valid her reasons are for keeping him at St. Edith’s, is too stressed out to really listen and understand Jeremy; and his flaky tree-hugging dad is not there for him at all. He still manages to keep a sense of humor about him, and he’s a likable kid. He’s a good kid from a good family who just wants one thing to go his way, and he’s got a conscience – whether he always listens to it remains to be seen.

There are plenty of social and family issues addressed in this seemingly light read: family relationships; divorce; social classes; gender roles; friendship, and consequences. The Last Boy at St. Edith’s deserves a spot on summer reading lists, for sure. I’ll be putting together some discussion questions and a booktalk to generate interest in this great debut.

The Last Boy at St. Edith’s has received a starred review from Kirkus Reviews. You can visit Ms. Malone’s author website for more information about her, including links to social media and information on school and library visits.

 

Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Graphic Novels, Humor, Middle Grade, Tween Reads

Pack your bags for creepy Camp Midnight!

camp midnightCamp Midnight, by Steven S. Seagle/Illustrated by Jason Adam Katzenstein (April 2016, Image Comics), $16.99, ISBN: 978-1-63215-555-9 (Diamond ID: AUG150485)

Recommended for ages 8-12

Poor Skye is shuttled between her divorced parents – and she is NOT a fan of her step-monster, Gayle. When her mother drops her off at her father’s for summer vacation, she finds out that they’ve made plans to send her off to camp – and then they end up sending her to the wrong camp! Camp Midnight is no ordinary camp: the head counselor is a witch, and the really cute boy she likes is a werewolf. Skye is under pressure to show her “real self” from the mean girls in her cabin, but she and her new friend Mia are keeping their secrets to themselves. Skye will learn a lot this summer, especially when Mia reveals her secret and it’s up to Skye to decide whether or not it’s what’s on the inside that counts.

Camp Midnight is an original graphic novel from Big Hero 6 creator Steven T. Seagle and New Yorker artist Jason Adam Katzenstein. This brilliant pairing brings a lot to the table: we have a sarcastic middle grade main character who readers will love. Skye’s in a position too many kids understand, being shuttled between two households; she has the indignity of a step-mother who makes no secret about not wanting her around, and a seemingly clueless father. Sent off to summer camp without even being asked, she finds herself the odd kid out in a big way, and reacts by rejecting everyone outright before they can reject her. Middle graders are going to love Skye’s sarcastic exterior and her vulnerable interior.

The art is a brilliant accompaniment to the story. I love Katzenstein’s rendering of the “step-monster”, with her glaring dark color and overbearing stature. Mia is drawn to be as soft and sweet as her character, with huge eyes, evoking sympathy from the get-go. The art is often exaggerated, larger than life, giving a bigness to the story that a tale with monsters deserves. Color is for overall mood, with panels in shades of orange, brown, or red, often with one color – like a blue or fuschia – to set apart a mood or action.

Camp Midnight is a fun addition to graphic novel libraries, and I already noticed the kids in my comic book group at the library circling while I was reading it (during what was supposed to be their comic book creating time). Call your distributors and pre-order it!

 

Posted in Fiction, Fiction, Humor, Intermediate, Middle Grade, Middle School, Realistic Fiction, Tween Reads, Uncategorized

Part Judy Blume, Part Dork Diaries: Dream On, Amber

Dream on AmberDream On, Amber, by Emma Shevah (Oct. 2015, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky), $12.99, ISBN: 9781492622505

Recommended for ages 8-12

Ambra Alessandra Leola Kimiko Miyamoto is half Japanese, half Italian, and things are not molto bene (very good) for her at the moment. She thinks her name is ridiculous; she’s managed to put herself in the sights of a bully at school; she’s doing her best to take care of her little sister, Bella, who really feels the absence of a dad in their lives, and she doesn’t feel like she belongs anywhere.

Her dad left when she was six and Bella was one, and he hasn’t even tried to get in touch. She feels like a whole half of herself is missing: she knows nothing about her Japanese side, but she doesn’t look like her Italian mother. And to top things off, she’s been trying to keep up a charade for Bella’s benefit, writing letters to her as their father, explaining why he’s not able to come home in time for her birthday party.

It’s such a relief to find realistic fiction that looks at big ticket items with sensitivity and humor. Amber tackles some tough questions and issues that middle graders face, and she does it with Judy Blume-esque humor, with a touch of Dork Diaries/Diary of a Wimpy Kid slapstick. The book is told in the first person, from Amber’s point of view, complete with illustrations and chapters headed by numbers in English, Italian, and Japanese.

True to life, there are no easy answers waiting for Amber, but she makes some big moves and grows up during the course of the novel. I loved this book and how it uses humor to take the sting out stressful situations facing kids these days. I’d love to read more of Amber’s adventures in the future – I hope we get some!

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

Not a Dr. Logan’s Divorce Book – a Survival Guide for Kids Stuck in the Middle

Dr_-Logan-New-Cover-EatonNot a Dr. Logan’s Divorce Book, by Sydney Salter (2014, Character Publishing), $16.99 ISBN: 978-0-9890797-5-4

Recommended for ages 8-13

Eleven-year-old Logan’s parents have split up, turning her life upside down. Her father has already moved on and is dating; she and her mother have relocated from their house to a small apartment, and she’s feeling left behind by her friends, her father’s family – even her father, himself. Logan’s mom immerses herself in the teachings of a self-help author/TV host, Dr. Donna; Logan finds Dr. Donna quotes taped up all over her home. To combat her feelings of helplessness and frustration, Logan begins her own (Not a) Doctor Logan’s Divorce Book, part journal, part book of lists for dealing with the hurdles of being a child of divorce, all survival guide for kids.

I did not expect this book to bowl me over as hard as it did. Like half the country, I’m a child of divorce. Although my parents split when I was 18, rather than 11, I went through many of the same emotional upheavals and experienced so many of the same feelings that Logan describes – especially the feelings of anger and frustration with the parent that left. Ms. Salter covers the depression one parent experiences, and the almost teen-like personality the other parent takes on – how is a kid supposed to deal with this? She also manages to find the humor in every situation, from Logan’s botched “love magic” that she hopes will reunite her parents, to her idea that shirking her schoolwork will reunite her parents, albeit in the principal’s office. We take Logan’s journey with her, and see her through to the other side, when things just may get better after all.

The story, written in the first person, allows readers to place themselves in Logan’s shoes. Illustrations by Chelsea Eaton give firmer shape to the story, and I loved the journal entries, complete with notebook spiral rings. Different fonts help emphasize Logan’s writing versus her overall narrative.

Book discussion questions at the end are helpful to both book discussion groups and parents who may want to read this book with their kids, letting the questions lead them into deeper conversations about any life changes going on. There are also links to divorce resources for children and parents alike.

Sydney Salter dedicates the book to us readers, and to her nine-year-old self. My 40-something self thanks her for it. I’ll be getting this on the shelves at my library, where kids who need it will be able to find it.

The author’s webpage includes a Q&A, discussion questions about her other books, links to her social media, and a link to her blog.