MY LIFE IN DIORAMAS for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

Earlier this year I featured THE BATTLE OF DARCY LANE and enjoyed it so much this new title by Tara Altebrando was an easy choice.  Little did I know how much joy and reflection the ride would be. I only wish I had this book many years ago.51r5kxE+UyL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

In my third year of teaching a student named Sarah was in my class. I got to know her older sister and family the previous year. They had always lived in the neighborhood and what happened mid year shook the class, school, and community. This beloved family was moving to another state. I got word one early morning as Sarah came to my classroom, her eyes streaked with sadness. It had been her only home and now she was going off to a strange new world, leaving friends and teachers behind.

MY LIFE IN DIORAMAS explores just that subject –  when events out of your control leave your family with the only decision left – moving from the place where you grew up. Our protagonist, Kate, reacts to the news as expected, but what she does to stall the move brings many surprises. Her middle grade voice is spot on and the supporting cast of friends and family make Kate’s struggles even more lifelike.

It’s a pleasure to be a part of the blog tour for this heartfelt title. It’s one I won’t soon forget.


FULL PLOT (From Amazon):

Kate Marino knows very well that home is where her heart is, and if she had any say in the matter, her heart would stay put in Big Red. The old, rambling farmhouse has withstood the test of time with her family, but now Kate’s parents have decided to sell it from under her feet.

The preventative solution: sabotage the realtor’s tours with the help of best friends and a plan that has maximum stinkage potential.

The back-up plan: hang on to at least a little bit of life at Big Red by creating shoebox dioramas of each room.

But even with a full-scale assault, will her mission be a success? And if not, what will the diorama of Kate’s future look like?

With a keen eye for capturing the moments that matter, acclaimed author Tara Altebrando explores the pain—and promise—of letting go.

  1. The Dioramas. Kate brings comfort to herself and others by extending a classroom diorama assignment to much bigger proportions. Pieces of her life are scattered in each. What a great background for this story.
  2. Moving is not the only problem for Kate. First crushes, shaky friendships, and a depressed mother bring many interesting scenes that will have you turning the pages for resolution and even a few laughs.
  3. The story will have you reflecting back to your own childhood home. Good and bad memories possibly, but like Kate, helping you become the person you are today.
  4. Kate is a dancer and its a marvelous hook to balance the story with what seems like a separate element but by the end it beautifully wraps itself around the themes of friendship and loss.
  5. Kids do understand if you explain. Kate is not happy she’s in the dark about so many of her family’s decisions. Her spunky reaction eventually convinces others that she may have more understanding than many of the adults.

FAVORITE LINES: I felt my body wake up from the tips of my toes to the top of my head as my bad mood blasted off me with each leap and turn. The energy in the room was totally different now than it had been before. We were going to get on a bus and perform on a big stage in front of hundreds of strangers and there’d be videos of us out there in the world for everyone to see.

QUOTE FROM AUTHOR: I was a music journalist when living in Dublin and interviewed groups like Rage Against the Machine, Duran Duran, The Frames (Glen Hansard!) and more. (From Tara’s website)


Check the links to other Middle Grade novels over at Shannon Messenger’s Marvelous Middle Grade Monday post.


About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...always striving to reach the next peak in my life and career.
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10 Responses to MY LIFE IN DIORAMAS for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

  1. Sounds like a great story. And I’m sure it’s one many kids can relate to. We always stayed in the same place when I was growing up and it’s the same for my daughter.

  2. Joanne Fritz says:

    I’ve heard good things about this book but didn’t know the details. Thanks for a thorough review. We moved when I was nine and I was heartbroken at first. Love the idea that pieces of her life appear in each diorama. And I always loved making dioramas in school.

  3. cleemckenzie says:

    Moving as a kid was always so huge for me. I can relate to this story.

  4. I really want to read this book. I hope I can get to it soon. Thanks for such an interesting and complete review.

  5. So glad to hear you like this novel since I just got a copy of it. It sounds like a great story. Thanks for sharing it today.

  6. jennienzor says:

    I keep hearing good things about this one. It sounds like a great book for kids who are going through a move themselves, like your former student. Thanks for highlighting this! I’m definitely going to have to check it out myself!

  7. Cindy Tran says:

    This sounds like a really good book! Thanks for sharing–this’ll definitely be on my TBR list! 🙂


  8. warrchick says:

    This sounds super fun, and I happen to enjoy dioramas, so that’s something extra to look forward to! Sorry to be running late, and thanks for the recommend!

  9. Brenda says:

    Loved My Life in Dioramas, I so related to the moving around growing up.

  10. sounds amazing!! and such a relatable issue for young kids faced with a move. I also loved dioramas!

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