Altebrando, Tara. My Life in Dioramas
April 28th 2015 by Running Press Kids
Copy received from publisher
Kate enjoys her life in her family's old house. Both of her parents freelance, so there's lots of time for them to do things together. The problems is that they are struggling financially, and decide to sell the large farmhouse and move in with Kate's grandparents, who live about an hour away. Kate is upset because she would have to leave her good friends Stella and Naveen, and she would miss a big dance competition. Stella also dances, and the two have always been close, but Stella wants to train for a solo dance, and starts hanging out with girls that Kate doesn't like. In order to postpone the sale of the house (hopefully indefinitely), Kate works with Naveen to find ways to make the house unattractive to visitors. She fills a bean bag chair with bags of manure, plans lots of noise when showings are to take place, and generally does anything she can to scare off prospective buyers. Knowing her efforts won't put off things forever, she tries to recreate every room in the house in shoebox dioramas. Her parents get a bit more organized, but the house eventually sells.
Strengths: Lots of funny moments, and realistic problems. Moving, mean girls, trouble in school-- those are age-appropriate concerns of middle grade readers, and I like that they are addressed with humor and positive movement.
Weaknesses: A tad on the whiny/sad side, and the art (in the ARC) isn't the type that appeals to my readers.
What I really think: While I'm really fed up with books with dysfunctional parents, Kate's are at least able to hold things together. There was enough humor in this that I will buy it, and readers who like realistic fiction will pick it up, although a peppier cover would help.