This summer has been filled with lots of time spent reading! I've been reading many MG (middle grades) books with a book group called #bookrelays that I joined when I was invited to share books with some of the teachers I follow on Twitter. We're swapping books and reading like crazy! Some of the books have already been released, and some are ARCs (advance reader's copy). Many authors, fellow book-lovers, and publishing companies have generously shared ARCs to allow us to get an early look at some upcoming MG books The photo above is a look at what arrived one day in mid-June!
I just finished one of the ARC #bookrelays books - The Thing About Leftovers, by C.C. Payne - and was totally delighted with the main character Fizzy from the very beginning when she proclaims, "...I am against the cruel treatment of clothes by way of bedazzling." Fizzy's dream is to one day have her own cooking show on TV. As a chef-wannabee myself, and a (former) child who also pretended to have a TV show (well, a bathroom cleaning commercial, actually), she had me cracking up many times and in tears at other times.
Fizzy's parents are divorced in this book and she is learning how to navigate her world as it changes to include stepparents. It really had me thinking about things I take for granted in my life and in the lives of my students, all students - not just children who come share households with stepparents, things like...
Each of these seemingly little things are very big things for Fizzy, and she misses the family that used to be. I love how author C.C. Payne even gives Fizzy the words to explain her feelings using cooking metaphors - feeling like she'd lost a really important bag of groceries filled with important ingredients--for her life! Fizzy likens the changes to making substitutions in a recipe - if you notice the changes (which she does, of course), they aren't good substitutions for the simple fact that they are noticeable. She feels like she has been given the ingredients for someone else's life.
Fizzy turns to her love of cooking as a way to cope with the both changes in her family and trying to fit in at a new school, and her aunt Liz encourages her to enter a cooking contest. There is a little bit of Kate DiCamillo's Raymie Nightingale in Fizzy as she puts her heart and soul into winning the cooking contest while also searching for ways to make her new normalcy feel less new and more normal.
Students will enjoy the many nuggets of wisdom Fizzy delivers, and I especially liked these two Fizzy-wisdoms that show she is truly wise beyond her years:
I thoroughly enjoyed joining Fizzy on this journey as she maneuvered this brave new world at both her own house and her father's house, trying to find the perfect recipe for her new life. This book left me feeling (another Fizzy-wisdom) "as happy as a birthday cake," and I know my students will find Fizzy wise and strong (even when she thinks she isn't - which they will GET), and I know they will find new Fizzy-wisdoms to bring to light!
A wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend, lifelong learner, educator