Parnell, Robyn. The Mighty Quinn
May 14th 2013, Scarletta Junior Readers
Nominated for the Cybils by Shelley.
Quinn has a supportive family and enjoys school, but things get even better when Neally moves to town and into his fifth grade class. She makes up for the horrible Matt, who is mean to all and sundry, especially the trio of immigrant children in the class who struggle with English. Neally's father volunteers at the school, her house is filled with all sorts of books, and they drive a 1975 Volvo infrequently. Even Mickey, Quinn's younger sister, is enthralled with Neally. Their class gets involved in several community service projects, and generally get along, and even the horrible Matt's behavior is explained by the end of the book. While figuring out Matt's behavior is the major plot, most of this book unfolds in episodic chapters.
Strengths: Very cool that Quinn's last name is his parents' names hyphenated, and Neally goes one better-- her stay-at-home father is Standers, her mother is Maxwell, and she's Standwell! The main characters are environmentally conscious, free of religion but tolerant of those who embrace it, and Quinn and Neally are supportive of the students in their class who are English Language Learners and positive role models for their peers.
Weaknesses: It is stated at one point that some of Quinn's grandparents are Chinese (and one of his last names is Lee), and stated earlier that his parents looked very similar to each other, but I had no indication from the illustrations that the family was Asian. No big deal, just a bit confusing. I don't see this book appealing to a wide demographic because of the depth of political correctness of the main characters and the slow pace of the book in general.
I think I want to be Robyn Parnell's neighbor-- we'd frequently get together for tea, I think. I loved this description on page 94: "[Pink] is just a color, you know," Neally said. "I don't care for pink, either... but it's not like colors can zap your chromosomes. I don't understand why some boys act like they're afraid of pink." Oregon must be a much more liberal, understanding place than Central Ohio!