Monday, August 12, 2019

MMGM- Stay

It's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday at Always in the Middle and #IMWAYR day at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. It's also Nonfiction Monday.

Pyron, Bobbie. Stay
August 13th 2019 by Katherine Tegen Books
E ARC from Young Adult Books Central

Piper's family has moved around a lot recently since her father is out of work. They've stayed with relatives, but have generally stayed in warm places-- Louisiana, Florida, Texas. Now, the family has landed in Idaho in a homeless shelter. Piper is embarrassed and not happy that her father has to stay in the men's shelter apart from them. Still, there are lots of things to be done to settle in, and the family sets up their rooms, finds a Community Kitchen for their meals, and get Piper enrolled in school. During their travels, they see a woman living on the streets with a small dog, and Piper is immediately drawn to Baby. Jewel is older and in poor health, and often confused, but other people help watch out for her, including Ree, who also has a dog. When Jewel is hospitalized, Baby is left alone. Ree takes care of her, and gives Piper and her father Jewel's knapsack for safekeeping. There is a Firefly Girl group that has meetings at Hope House, and Piper is glad for a familiar activity with other girls who are in similar circumstances. She befriends Karina, who also goes to her school, and finds a place to sit at lunch where she feels comfortable. She tries to visit Baby as often as possible, and she and her friends try to piece together some information about Jewell so they can get her the help she needs. They eventually find out that Jewel struggled with mental issues that required medication, and was on her way to stay with her sister in a pet friendly senior facility in Boise. With the help of the Firefly Girls' cookie fundraiser, money is raised to send Jewel and Baby to Boise. Piper's family is slowly getting back on their feet, and she is glad that she was able to help someone else.
Piper's family is down on their luck, but still positive and working to make their lives better. The realities of living in a shelter, especially when other kids at school know you do, are unflinchingly portrayed, and reading about Piper's struggles will hopefully make children more empathetic. Jewel's journey to living on the streets with her beloved dog is also described in a way that shows how close many people are to being homeless-- just a small series of set backs can be all it takes. The community of homeless dog lovers is especially fascinating. This was just a well-written story with a fantastic combination of ingredients. Combined with the cover, it will circulate as well as Nielsen's No Fixed Address, which has been a runaway favorite in my library.

The one difficult part in the book was the Firefly Girls' cookie sale. Fund raisers are hard on any child, but seem like a bad idea with children living in a homeless shelter. It was fantastic to see them be willing to donate the money to someone less fortunate, though.

Like Bauer's Almost Home (2012), this will see steady circulation because it is interesting, fast paced, and still somehow heart-wrenching. Excellent book with such an appealing cover. There have been a number of books recently involving children dealing with homelessness, including Messner's The Exact Location of Home, Stevenson's Lizzie Flying Solo and Sarno's Just Under the Clouds as well as the Young Adult Roam by Armstrong. These books are a great way for readers to understand the difficulties some of their classmates may face and to build empathy.

Wheeler-Toppen, Jodi. Dog Science Unleashed: Fun Activities to Do with Your Canine Companion 
August 7th 2018 by National Geographic Society
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central

This fun, colorful, and well-illustrated book covers four major topics of scientific research; Sniffing Out Senses, Fit Fido, Clever Canines and Pampered Pooches. Each section has at least six different experiments to try, plus a section on real life scientists and activities they do that pertain to these topics. Each experiment has directions, list of supplies, a time estimate, and very complete instructions. These range from seeing what smells dogs are most interested to checking the temperature of dogs who are wearing coats to telling if your dog is right or left pawed! Children and their dogs model all of these activities in full color pages.

While my faithful canine was more interested in napping than doing experiments, this is a great way to get children interested in science and for them to spend more time with their dog in a challenging and productive way. The most used pages will probably be the ones for making dog treats, but there are some really fun experiments, like determining whether a dog recognizes itself in a mirror!

While older readers will be able to complete these activities on their own, those younger than ten may need some help. The print in the books is on the small side, and there is a lot of information on the page. This would make a great gift for a young pet owner who enjoys books like Albee's Dog Days of History or Patent's Dogs on Duty, and it wouldn't hurt to include a box of dog biscuits and maybe a copy of Tom Watson's Stick Dog!

More washable Lands End clothing for another teacher work day. I got these on two separate trips! I usually wear vintage jewelry; this is a Lucite and plastic owl from the 70s. I like to think the students find my jewelry amusing. I never pay more than $3 for a piece.

Welp. Change of plans. Instead, I wore jeans, an old white polo I can get bleach on, and a sweater. Because...

I got nothing done on Friday because the 8th grade welcome leaders had all the tables pushed against the stack in the main library and were being enthusiastic, and there were workmen installing the security camera equipment in my back room, loudly drilling though metal. I eventually gave up and went home to work. The library is a hot and holy mess, I haven't processed new books, and I don't have a good schedule. Never been less prepared for a school year.

This must mean it's going to be the best year ever, right?


  1. Stay sounds like a touching and meaningful story! The National Geographic book sounds fun as well! Thanks for the recommendations!

    (P.S. I'm sorry about the beginning of the school year! I hope it improves soon—good luck!)

  2. Yes, it sounds like it will be the best year ever. Thanks for the review of STAY. I'm always looking for fast paced stories that will keep the more hesitant readers engaged.

  3. A lot going on this time of year for you, eh? Sounds exciting. I would buy STAY for the cover alone, but your review makes it sound like a must read. Thanks for the post.

  4. Oh my goodness, what a MESS with the tables and camera installation and unprocessed books. YIKES! And between the cover and your review, I'm excited to hunt down Stay. And I'm quite sure my kiddos would enjoy Dog Science Unleashed: Fun Activities to Do with Your Canine Companion, but I do wish it wasn't in small print. Because it's my emerging readers who would get the most use out of these activities. As usual, thanks for the shares, Karen, and have a wonderful start of the school year!