First things first – I have a winner of my new year’s contest: The Book Owl. Congratulations! I’ll whisk the three books and Starbucks gift card off to you once I get an address.
Now, here’s this week’s MMGM selection – THE THING ABOUT JELLYFISH…
I shouldn’t have read this one during the recent holiday season. It’s a sad story and not because of a scene or two – 99% of the book is a downer. Middle grade seems to be full of these gut wrenching stories. Yes, we live in a world full of death. No way to hide it from kids. But for me I’d rather read something a little more uplifting.
Still though, I’m recommending THE THING ABOUT JELLYFISH for readers who feel the need for a story like this. It is so well written.
Suzy and Franny have been best of friends since they were five. Fast forward to sixth grade and they have drifted apart. By the time summer hits they aren’t friends any more, especially with Suzy’s rather strange behavior and failed plan to get her friend back. None of it works, and before seventh grade begins a terrible ocean accident claims Franny’s life. She’ll never know how Suzy (Zu) felt about the break-up and how she desperately tried to make it stop. Grief stricken Suzy deals with the loss in a very surprising way.
The story is told in Suzy’s voice. Chapters are devoted to present day but other chapters are interspersed with flashbacks of how the friendship developed, eventually crashed, and the months after Franny’s death. Very effective story telling.
PUBLICATION DATE: 2015 WORD COUNT: 46,150 READING LEVEL: 5.0
FULL PLOT (From AMAZON) After her best friend dies in a drowning accident, Suzy is convinced that the true cause of the tragedy must have been a rare jellyfish sting-things don’t just happen for no reason. Retreating into a silent world of imagination, she crafts a plan to prove her theory–even if it means traveling the globe, alone. Suzy’s achingly heartfelt journey explores life, death, the astonishing wonder of the universe…and the potential for love and hope right next door.
FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT: THE THING ABOUT JELLYFISH by Ali Benjamin
- The chapter are arranged in seven sections – each highlighting a point in the scientific procedure. Such an ingenious way to present the story.
- I’ve stared at jellyfish with wonder at aquariums. Never did I realize until reading this book the fascinating background of these creatures. Another perfect hook in telling this tale of sorrow.
- Displays the changes many kids experience going from the safety of elementary school to the scariness of middle school. Excellent depiction of the relationships kids leave behind as they form their identity.
- The sad tale ends with a smidgen of hope and earned my recommendation on those final pages.
- We all experience grief at some point. I myself have had students, relatives, and friends pass away. This provides some understanding to the process we go through to understand.
FAVORITE LINES: Some hearts beat only about 412 million times. Which might sound like a lot. But the truth is, it barely even gets you twelve years.
AUTHOR QUOTE: Although most of the characters in this book are fiction, the jellyfish experts, including Jamie Seymour, are real. I’ve done my best to honor their work and their achievements by representing them as factually as possible.
Make a comment if you have time. I enjoy reading all of them. Just click on the Comments word above. You’ll find it right under the title of this post.
Check the links to other Middle Grade novels over at Shannon Messenger’s Marvelous Middle Grade Monday post.