THE THING ABOUT LEFTOVERS for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

First my own leftovers. The winners of my holiday giveaway.

A copy of FRAMED! and ENCYCLOPEDIA OF SCIENCE goes to Rosi Hollinbeck. You can see Rosi’s reviews along with some helpful writing links at THE WRITE STUFF.

A copy of RISE OF THE LIONESS and ARABIAN KNIGHTS goes to Danielle Hammelef.

Congratulations. I’ll send your holiday gifts out this week.


I’m filling the final month of 2016 with reviews from the Cybil’s MG Fiction list. I’ll have two per week beginning with this one.

I’ve known many kids in the same predicament as the main character in THE THINGleftovers ABOUT LEFTOVERS. First comes the divorce, then one or both parents eventually remarry, leaving the child with stepparents. Some kids adjust well, but those that don’t will find comfort in reading about Fizzy Russo, who feels like a leftover. She has two homes now and neither seem like home. Her step mom and step dad are strangers Fizzy doesn’t like.

With weekends at her dad’s house and the rest of the time at Moms, Fizzy takes heart in a cooking competition she has entered. She hopes maybe by winning, her leftover status might change. Some day having her own cooking show on TV would also help.

I think I gained a few pounds just reading about  Fizzy’s culinary masterpieces. There are touches of humor, more than enough whining, but in the end you are happy to have gotten to know Fizzy Russo.


FULL PLOT (From AMAZON) Fizzy is a good Southern girl who just wants to be perfect. And win the Southern Living cook-off. The being perfect part is hard though, since her parents’ divorced and everything in her life has changed. Wary of her too-perfect stepmom and her mom’s neat-freak, dismissive boyfriend, she’s often angry or upset and feels like a guest in both homes. She tells herself to face facts: She’s a “leftover” kid from a marriage that her parents want to forget. But she has to keep all of that to herself, because a good Southern girl never yells, or throws fits, or says anything that might hurt other people’s feelings—instead she throws her shoulders back, says yes ma’am, and tries to do better. So Fizzy tries her best, but it’s hard to stay quiet when her family keeps getting more complicated. Fortunately, the Southern Living cook-off gives her a welcome distraction, as do her new friends Miyoko and Zach, who have parent issues of their own.


  1. Fizzy’s new friends are the rocks that keep her going. Everyone should be so lucky to have a Zach and Miyoko in their lives. Two great supporting characters.
  2. Just a thing with me–I love short chapters–those you can read out loud or to yourself in less than 8 minutes. Here we have 39 well crafted ones to keep you reading.
  3. Fizzy learns that sometimes the tough teacher is just trying to make her better.
  4. Fizzy’s positive and negatives list about her step parents are spot on as to how a young girl would feel. Here’s one: Gave me a hateful alarm clock for my birthday–which I’m pretty sure he received as a free gift with his Sports Illustrated subscription.
  5. By reading the two pages where Fizzy describes her A.D. Rules (After Divorce), young readers going through the same predicament will know they are not alone.

FAVORITE LINES:  I don’t do ruffles, bows, flowers. or sequins–I am against the cruel treatment of clothes by way of bedazzling. I have flannel shirts for winter, T-shirts for summer, and long-sleeved T-shirts and baseball-type shirts for everything in between–I don’t devote a lot of thought to clothes because I like to think I have more important things to think about. Even so, I wouldn’t mind some designer jeans; only Mom won’t buy them, which probably explains a lot about my situation here in the valley–I don’t have the right stuff, literally or figuratively.

WORDS OF WISDOM FROM AUTHOR, C.C. PAYNE: Perseverance and discipline are the only tricks I know. I’m not an extraordinary person. I’m not even an extraordinary writer. I’m just an ordinary person who perseveres by writing two little pages every day, no matter what. But I am extraordinarily happy.

So, if you want my best advice, here it is: Work hard at what you love, and don’t stop, no matter what! (From her website)



Make a comment if you have time. I enjoy reading all of them. Click on the comments link below.

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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12 Responses to THE THING ABOUT LEFTOVERS for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

  1. Susan says:

    I’m a fan of short chapters, too. This one sounds funny.

  2. danielle hammelef says:

    I put this book on my to-read list. Thanks for the review. I also love short chapters as my reading time gets cut up all the time into small bits to steal here and there. I like that the character’s voice is spot on with how a girl of her age would think and act.

  3. mrsaruman says:

    Hi Greg,

    I’d love to comment but the wordpress login has me stumped

    Merry Christmas, if you do that sort of thing.

    Kevin Gerard – AWA Award Winning Author of the Diego’s Dragon children’s fantasy series

  4. cleemckenzie says:

    A great topic for today’s kids. So many are caught in the confusion caused by divorce. I was, and it would have been helpful to read how a kid dealt with the upheaval in her life. Have a wonderful Christmas and here’s to more great MG books in 2017.

  5. I laughed at “I think I gained a few pounds just reading about Fizzy’s culinary masterpieces.” And the author’s words of wisdom are inspiring.

  6. I’ve been dying to get my hands on this. Thanks for the reminder and the review.

  7. I love this book. I think it is the best book about divorce written for kids this age that I’ve read. Glad to see the word being spread. Thanks for another great post.

  8. Oh, and thanks for piking my name out of the hat! Looking forward to reading both books.

  9. I am currently reading this book, so I scanned your review because I don’t want to spoil anything. It’s just getting good. Glad you enjoyed it. Will have to review this in the New Year!

  10. Great title, and I love how it connects with the theme. I’m also glad to here there are supportive friends—those are my favourite kind of secondary characters.

  11. Amanda says:

    I love how you format your reviews! Just found you through Marvelous Middle Grade Monday.

    Amanda @ A Bookshelf Monstrosity

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