WELCOME TO ANOTHER MARVELOUS MIDDLE GRADE MONDAY!
For several years I taught in a special program for intellectually gifted students. These were 28 sixth graders who had a variety of strengths in writing, math, and the sciences. They were all deep thinkers and I did for them what I’ve always done with students: Find out what they know and can do and then push them further. Every child deserves growth no matter their starting point. That part was easy.
A more challenging aspect were the social-emotional needs. Gifted is a loaded word and many of these bright youngsters would have traded their ‘gifts’ to be normal. Concerns with identity and fit, heightened sensory functions, perfectionism, anxiety, and underachievement took up 90% of my time. This new book by Stacy McAnulty would have been a good one to use with those students.
Lucy Callahan wasn’t born gifted. Her intellectual skills came about after being struck by lightning. It’s a real condition called Acquired Savant Syndrome. She lives with her grandmother and is home schooled until Grandma decides it would be best if she went to middle school for a year. Uh-oh is right.
The depiction of middle school here is one of the most accurate I’ve come across—both for students and their teachers. Lucy’s first person narration hides the fact she is a Math genius. What she can’t hide are her OCD tendencies. She counts everything and has to stand and sit three times before settling down. Lucy does make a few friends and one huge enemy, but the heart of this story is accepting differences. We can’t all fit into the same box.
The ending was not an ending but instead provided hope. We need more contemporary dramas like this one.
PUBLICATION DATE: 2018 PAGE COUNT: 304
THE PLOT (From Penguin Random House)
Lucy Callahan was struck by lightning. She doesn’t remember it, but it changed her life forever. The zap gave her genius-level math skills, and ever since, Lucy has been homeschooled. Now, at 12 years old, she’s technically ready for college. She just has to pass 1 more test–middle school!
Lucy’s grandma insists: Go to middle school for 1 year. Make 1 friend. Join 1 activity. And read 1 book (that’s not a math textbook!). Lucy’s not sure what a girl who does calculus homework for fun can possibly learn in 7th grade. She has everything she needs at home, where nobody can make fun of her rigid routines or her superpowered brain. The equation of Lucy’s life has already been solved. Unless there’s been a miscalculation?
A celebration of friendship, Stacy McAnulty’s smart and thoughtful middle-grade debut reminds us all to get out of our comfort zones and embrace what makes us different.
FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT:
THE MISCALCULATIONS OF LIGHTNING GIRL
- Her two friends, Windy and Levi, are so different but also much needed in her life. They provided the spark that kept the story moving forward.
- The group project is something kids dread or cheer depending on who they get to work with. The dog shelter sub plot for Lucy was a gem. Canine lovers may shed a tear for the plight of many of these dogs.
- Levi’s I don’t care exterior could have stayed that way throughout. Instead, what breaks out is a very caring individual. Great character arc.
- There’s a big gift to math lovers here with Lucy’s infatuation with Pi and her natural calculator brain. But those who despise math should not stay away as your side of the equation is also portrayed.
- Mr. Stoker is the kind of teacher we should all have a chance to meet and learn from.
The best decision Nana ever made was taking me out of public school. Now she wants to send me back. Obviously, her judgment is deteriorating.
You can also read the first chapter here!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR, Stacy McAnulty:
In no particular order… I’m a wife, mother of 3 kids and 3 dogs, author, daughter, sister and stepsister, aunt, friend, Twitter addict, mechanical engineer (currently inactive), inconsistent blogger, Packers fan, two-finger typist, concerned citizen, book-buying enthusiast, reluctant volunteer, minivan driver, pancake flipper, snooze-button hitter, and coupon clipper.
(For a more traditional bio see Stacy’s author website)
Make a comment if you have time. I enjoy reading all of them. Click on the comments link below.