Middle school students have reading interests that run the gamut from Diary of a Wimpy Kid to Twilight. Sometimes as a parent it is hard to know what is age appropriate for your child. Through this blog, I will try to help parents make informed decisions about what is available in our library. I am hoping that this blog will be a resource for our parents, and that we can all work together to make our students life-long readers!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Counting by 7s

Counting by 7s
by Holly Goldberg Sloan
From the publisher:
"In the tradition of Out of My Mind, Wonder, and Mockingbird, this is an intensely moving middle grade novel about being an outsider, coping with loss, and discovering the true meaning of family. 

Willow Chance is a twelve-year-old genius, obsessed with nature and diagnosing medical conditions, who finds it comforting to count by 7s. It has never been easy for her to connect with anyone other than her adoptive parents, but that hasn’t kept her from leading a quietly happy life... until now.

Suddenly Willow’s world is tragically changed when her parents both die in a car crash, leaving her alone in a baffling world. The triumph of this book is that it is not a tragedy. This extraordinarily odd, but extraordinarily endearing, girl manages to push through her grief. Her journey to find a fascinatingly diverse and fully believable surrogate family is a joy and a revelation to read.

Holly Goldberg Sloan knows how to tell a story. Characters may be quirky, plot holes may exist, but still you want to read. I very much enjoyed this book, and the students at our middle school really enjoy it, it gets checked out a lot. But to compare it to Wonder is going a little too far. Things are a lot less believable and real in this book. That doesn't mean it wasn't incredibly entertaining and heartfelt, just not that realistic. And, once again, I have to take exception to the way public school employees were treated. A teacher, principal and school counselor who are incredibly stupid is kind of a slap in the face to all the wonderful teachers, principals and counselors we have in the public school system. Really? NO ONE realized that Willow was gifted? So in a way this felt a little farcical, like a Lemony Snicket book. And if you just let it flow and not worry about it being unrealistic, then it is a wonderful, fun read. I loved Willow's voice! She was quirky, annoying, innocent and wise. Her brain doesn't work quite like anyone else's, but because of that she has many amazing thoughts. 

The average teenager was willing to wear very uncomfortable attire. From my observation, the older you get, the more you like the word cozy. That’s why most of the elderly wear pants with elastic waistbands. If they wear pants at all. This may explain why grandparents are in love with buying grandkids pajamas and bathrobes. The outfits worn by my fellow students were, in my opinion, either way too tight or way too loose. Apparently having something that actually fits was not acceptable. 

So put aside the many improbable circumstances and behaviors and just enjoy the storytelling.

Areas of concern:
*A 12 year old dealing with the death of her parents.
*A public school system that fails horribly, over and over again.
*Bullying of main character (only at the beginning of the story).

Suggested Ages:
Booklist - Grades 7-10
Publisher's Weekly - Ages 10+
School Library Journal - Grades 5-8
(An interesting range.  I would say it is very appropriate for all middle schoolers.)

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