Monday, August 11, 2014

MMGM- Always, Abigail

18509629Cavanaugh, Nancy J. Always, Abigail.
August 5th 2014 by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
ARC from Baker and Taylor

Abigail is excited to begin middle school, especially since she and her friends Alli and Cami have been shopping all summer and are ready to make the pom pom squad and rule the school. However, Abigail gets stuck in Miss Hendrick's homeroom, while her friends have the cute new male teacher, and she is made an alternate on the pom pom squad. Her life is totally OVER, especially when Miss Hendricks assigns letter writing partners, and Abigail gets stuck with Flabby Gabby. Abigail is torn. She really wants to be a pom pom girl, but even Alli and Cami are being weird and mean about being on the squad, and Gabby is being really nice and helpful. The two are asked to read to kindergartners, and Abigail really enjoys it until her former friends start making fun of her. Keeping lists of things in a journal, Abigail tries to reconcile wanting to be part of the popular crowd with how mean the popular crowd is. Alli and Cami have been her friends for a long time, but she is increasingly uncomfortable with their behavior, especially when it comes to their treatment of Gabby.
Strengths: At first, I really, really wanted to slap Abigail, especially after her description of Miss Hawk and her everlasting obsession with the pom pom squad, but... it's a pitch perfect middle school voice, and she does learn a hard, hard lesson that so many middle school girls learn. Friends change. Popular people can be mean. Things that seem like a good idea at the time are not. Mistakes are made at very loud volumes, in front of everyone. Cavanaugh really knows her demographic, writes effectively and convincingly, and even the format (lists) works.
Weaknesses: The story line has been done before, and Gabby is a bit stereotypical for an unpopular girl (bad family circumstances, geeky, outspoken), but every few years we need an updated version of this story with a cover that's in style. No one is going to read Mary Downing Hahn's 1983 Daphne's Book anymore, so this is a good way to cover this topic.

I'll give my ARC to an incoming 6th grade girl who LOVES to read realistic fiction, and she'll be thrilled.

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.

Today is the first day back at school, and I don't feel as prepared as I like to be. The library is clean and organized, I have schedules of classes and books displayed, but I  don't FEEL as prepared as I should be. There's a back log of books to process, my new orders aren't in, and I only read 140 books this summer. Too much real life, going on, I'm afraid. It lead to having to DRIVE places nearly every day instead of just reading on the porch with Sylvie and occasionally biking to the library, which is the ideal way to spend the summer, especially when the weather was as lovely as it was this summer.

Also smarting a bit at not being included in this new list of children's bloggers at Fuse 8/School Library Journal, but it's a good reality check that if I am blogging for the fame and renown, I'm blogging for the wrong reasons! I blog so that I know my books and can get the right book to the right student at the right time. Everything else is gravy. And gravy is bad for us, anyway!

Glad to be back, though, and hope to become more organized as year progresses! Maybe next summer I will get up and running on podcast reviews.


  1. I felt a bit left out when I read the Fuse 8 list too, especially since she links to my reviews fairly often. But at least she mentioned Cybils.

  2. You are absolutely right. It is important to have an updated version and especially since most kids today won't have patience with something written in the 80s. Best of luck with new school year!

  3. I would worry too much about the Fuse 8 mistake. Those that love your reviews will find you. Your newest review reminds me so much of my past schools where feelings about having a certain teacher boil over. We solved that problem by mixing up each class with a different group so they were never seeing the same faces.

  4. Anonymous12:43 PM EDT

    Thanks for sharing this oh man, great cover and hope you grade sixer enjoys the book.

    Now I have to go off and have a moment, lol. I remember book talking this one back in the day :

    "Mary Downing Hahn's 1983 Daphne's Book "

  5. I love your blog. You have a great reviewing style.

    I just finished this one, and was surprised how much I liked it. I am probably going to send one to my non-reading 4th grade niece. I think the style will go over with her.

  6. Too bad about Fuse # 8 but I still think you have one of the greatest blogs out there. You handled it with real grace--no wonder we made you an Honorary Guy!

  7. I'm writing down this title for my daughter who likes these kinds of books.

    Yeah, forget the lists. For what it's worth, you're on mine.

  8. ha, me neither and I've been around since 2008. But it doesn't bother me - neither you and I nor Charlotte write the type of blog she's looking for and I would have been surprised if we were on the list - we're more about collection development and book recommendations for real kids, teachers, librarians, and parents while I see her blog and many of those listed as more "literary". Which is ok - everyone does different things for different audiences. I rarely buy the titles she recommends and mostly just skim her posts - they're not often relevant to my work in a small, rural public library with an emphasis on popular kids' books. But they're fun to skim through and several of the blogs she lists are fun to look through on occasion.