Wednesday, December 04, 2019


Wang, Jen. Stargazing. 
September 10th 2019 by First Second
Public library copy

Christine's family is active in the local Chinese community, and when Moon Lin and her mother need a place to stay, they clean out a small cottage on their property where her grandfather had lived. Moon is rumored to have some anger issues, so Christine is a bit leery of befriending her, but is eventually won over by her infectious enthusiasm from everything from nail polish to K-Pop. This is a welcome break from the strictures of her own family, where studying hard and being serious are very much valued. The two become friends, and Moon confides in Christine that she sees visions and really is from outerspace. Eventually, Moon becomes more popular, attracting the attention of Madison, a girl whom everyone likes, and making Christine anxious. She leaves Moon's notebook out at a party, and when people make fun of her, Moon becomes violent and then passes out. Once the reasons for this are discovered and must be dealt with, Christine feels bad about how she treated her friend, but also anxious that her friend may change.
Strengths: This offers a nice picture of a close knit community-- I especially liked the Chinese school Christine's mother ran. Moon has good qualities and bad ones, and while Christine doesn't like all of the rules her parents has, she seems to understand why they have them. These shades of gray are fascinating and somewhat unusual in realistic middle grade fiction. The friend drama is also well developed. The illustrations are attractive and colorful, and the cover will definitely appeal to graphic novel fans.
Weaknesses: Yet again, my odd problem with animated noses surfaces. Moon's nose seems impossibly turned up, but it's not as bad as Ignatow's drawing of Julie's nose in The Popularity Papers or the odd colors on the noses in Marsden's Anne of Green Gables graphic novel. Will students care? No.
What I Really Think: Definitely purchasing, and I'm sure it will be a popular title. I would have enjoyed it more as a chapter book, because I felt like there was a lot about Christine that I still didn't know at the end of the book.

Edwards, Gavin. Kindness and Wonder: Why Mister Rogers Matters Now More Than Ever
October 29th 2019 by Dey Street Books
Public library copy

Sure, I read this because I was THE target demographic for Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, but this ended up being a fantastic biography of an amazing television pioneer. I have 6th graders starting research for National History Day, and Rogers would make a fantastic subject for the theme of Breaking Barriers!

The biography section of this is only 142 pages, but it is certainly complete and covers everything from early life to the production of all of Rogers' television programs. There is a second section about how to incorporate Mr. Rogers' philosophies into one's own life, and gives anecdotes about his impact on the lives of a variety of people, but I'm buying this for the biography. As such, it would have been nice to see more photographs, but students will be fine with looking things up online. I know I looked up a lot of key clips after reading about them.

What foresight, to go right from college to working at a television studio in New York City in the early 1950s! And then going back to Pittsburgh and being one of six original employees at WQED in Pittsburgh. The amount of research that he put into children's programming-- wow. Yes, he was an amazingly kind and thoughtful person, but he was also a talented writer and savvy businessman.

Plus, NOTHING in the world makes me cry more than Mr. Rogers. Nothing. I don't cry. I can't type this without crying. Definitely buying a copy of this for my biography section. Age appropriate for middle school, and even has some delicate topics discussed in a circumspect but thorough fashion. (Some of the parodies of Mr. Rogers are discussed in the second section.)


  1. Mister Rogers is my hero. I will look for this book.

  2. Umm, I was wondering what you thought of Stargazing. I just finished it and really like it. I was just a little to old for Mister Rogers but this book sounds interesting and one I would like to read. And since I'm not a cryer either, I'm even more curious.