Monday, July 07, 2014

MMGM--Absolutely Almost

18225037Graff, Lisa. Absolutely Almost
June 12th 2014 by Philomel
Copy from the Westerville Public Library

Albie's parents are both very demanding and very busy with their work, and his Grandpa Park also has high expectations for him, so when Albie is asked not to return to Mountford Prep, everyone is disappointed. Albie feels like he isn't talented at anything. His best friend and neighbor, Erlan, is very busy over the summer since his family (which has two sets of triplets) is filming a reality show, so he is stuck with his new nanny, Calista. Calista is very different from the other nannies, and wants to do all of the things that Albie considers fun, instead of the things that his mother thinks are fun. She helps to tutor Albie so that he will do better in school, but encourages him to concentrate on his people skills and to believe in his own abilities. Unfortunately, Calista is fired for a lapse in judgement, but hopefully Albie will be able to continue
Strengths: This reminded me of Harriet the Spy, but with an appealing main character (As a child, I thought Harriet was horrible, and I can't say rereading the book changed my mind!). Solid New York City setting, interesting use of reality television, and a good message about knowing one's own strengths. Also, a main character who is half Korean but whose heritage is not the main thrust of the story. Too bad Albie's face isn't on the cover!
Weaknesses: Perhaps children in NYC have nannies, but here in the midwest Albie would be spending his time at a summer parks and recreation program instead, so it might be a bit hard for my students to connect with the idea of Calista. The parents in this books were really rather horrible, especially in regards to how they treated Calista. Sure, nannies can be detrimental to children and have to be watched, but Calista's firing was shocking and not explained to my liking.

It's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday at Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe and What Are You Reading? day at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. It's also Nonfiction Monday at Anastasia Suen's blog.

I'm going to have to come up with a term for books that I read and think "Meh. Okay, don't think I'll buy it, but I know that all the other teachers and librarians will think this is AWESOME." This struck me right away as being that sort of book, and sure enough, it showed up with several other titles I read in this article at School Library Journal:

Here's a hint: If I don't review a book at all, it means I couldn't find anything nice to say about it. This was not the case for this book, but I certainly was not as enthusiastic as the following reviewers:
The Styling Librarian

Oh, well. As I tell my students, there are lots of different books for different readers, and we don't all have to like the same books!


  1. Good timing as I have just added this one to my shelf and will hopefully get to it in the next month. I like the premise and will let you know what I think in a future review. The cover and author are the main reasons I am going to read this one. Thanks always for you honest and insightful reviews.

  2. I've added Absolutely Almost to my to read list because I've read so much about it. I like that you've given me a bit more about what it's about. Many of my readers here in Vancouver BC, can probably relate to having a nanny, although parks and rec programs would be on the agenda as well.

  3. Anonymous1:45 AM EDT

    :) Over in Hong Kong all my kids have helpers/nannys so it will be well accepted, but makes sense in other areas that kids will need a little help grasping that concept... I had to reread the firing section, but after keeping up with a few moms who treat their help cut/dry, no flexibility if mistakes are made, I accepted the shock of that. Always appreciate your opinion...

  4. I've been reading a lot of reviews about Absolutely Almost. Thanks for sharing more information about the novel.

  5. What a great relief to finally come upon someone else who is not taken with Harriet the Spy. I didn't read it until I was an adult, finished it, and thought What?