Monday, June 21, 2021

MMGM-- The Double Life of Danny Day

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday
and #IMWAYR day 

Thayer, Mike. The Double Life of Danny Day
June 15th 2021 by Feiwel Friends
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

For his whole life, Danny has lived each day twice. When he was very young, his parents worried about his assertion of this fact and sent him to a psychologist, who helped him come up with a system-- the first time around is a "discard day", so he can experiment and often makes questionable choices, and the second is a "sticky day", so he has to do well on tests and be nice to people, since these are the events that will be remembered by other people. When his family moves from Texas to Pocatello, Idaho, Danny isn't thrilled to have to adjust to a new school. Keeping notes to help him decide what to do the next day, he claims to be a mind reader and asks classmates to write down a phrase on a piece of paper, and carefully scopes out the hierarchy of the cafeteria. Braxlynn and Jaxson are two really popular students, but it's Noah who catches his attention. Noah runs an illicit video game competition, where the $2 entry fees are collected in a brown paper bag, and the winner, usually Noah, gets to keep the proceeds. Freddie is welcoming to Danny and tells him about the ins and outs of the game, which she doesn't win, although she could use the money since her family is struggling. He also meets Zak, and gets along with him really well even though he is more into music and doing really well in school, and Zak's Ghanan born father is Danny's father's new boss! Danny is plenty busy, settling in to his new school and keeping up with his work, but he also has to keep track of his younger twin sisters who get into lots of trouble on discard days that he tries to remedy. He tells Zak about his situation, and with his help, figures out a plan to take down Noah's video game reign. 
Strengths: This was sort of like a football book, but with video game on-field action. Video games take up a lot of mental real estate for many of my students, are there aren't many books that include them in the plot, unless they are fantasy books where children get sucked into the games. This is also innovative with the realistic fantasy of Danny getting two chances on each day; the reason given is that he was born on February 2 at 2:22. Enough of a reason for me! It was interesting that his family had him in counseling, and I liked that he spent so much time with his younger sisters. The field notes on fellow students and their social constructs was fun and not inaccurate. All in all, a very solidly fun middle grade novel! Definitely purchasing.
Weaknesses: This was sort of like a football book, but with video game on-field action. This means that I didn't understand some of what was going on and may have skimmed those parts. Also, Noah was handling a LOT of money, and I'm surprised that he hadn't gotten caught. Middle school students tend to give away situations like this by congregating in suspicious ways, and there's always one student who will spill all of the beans to the administration! 
What I really think: This felt a little like Clements' Lost and Found, where twins only go to school every other day. I really like the idea of playing with a time loop or alternate reality in middle school, especially one where you get to test things out before doing them. It was also interesting that Zak and Danny's doctor encouraged him to do more with this opportunity than skip school to play video games. Thought provoking AND fun. Looking forward to seeing more from Mr. Thayer. 
Finklestein, Norman H. The Shelter and the Fence:When 982 Holocaust Refugees Found Safe Haven in America
June 8th 2021 by Chicago Review Press
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

While middle grade literature has many books portraying people who went to camps or hid from the Nazis, there are not quite as many about people who left their homes and fled to other countries. Going to another country in Europe is roughly equivalent, distance wise, to going to another state, and I'm not sure my students fully understand that. This book introduces us to many families and individuals who got out of their countries and were able to apply to come to the United States. Refugees from 18 different countries were brought to Oswego New York via a transport ship from Italy. They were settled in an old army base, which at first made many of the people nervous, since it seemed like the concentration camps many had experienced. The people of Oswego, however, had set up the living areas like apartments, and tried to furnish the newcomers with as many of the niceties of home as they could. The applicants were vetted so that there were a variety of occupations represented, so people worked in the camp. Children went to the local public schools. 

While the residents of the camp were glad to have food and safe shelter, they also felt penned in. The agreement between the refugees and the US was that this was a temporary arrangement, and after the war, they would return to their countries. Because of this, they weren't allowed out of the camp to visit relatives in New York City, although some did sneak out. A couple of students graduated from high school and were accepted into Harvard, but were unable to attend. It took a lot of legal work for the residents to be allowed to stay after the end of the war. 

This was an interesting tale of history that was unknown to me. I have to admit that I was hesitant to read yet another book about World War II, but I don't know that there will ever be an end to the very different stories that emerge from that era. The book had plenty of pictures, as well as large text, and moved very quickly. At just under 200 pages, this is a book that students who have studied the Holocaust will find refreshing, since it depicts people who were saved. Perhaps knowing about these 982 people will build empathy for the many immigrants who are coming to the US today from a variety of war torn countries. 


  1. Wow—I just read Natalie Aguirre's interview at Literary Rambles with the author of The Double Life of Danny Day, so it's fun to see you recommending it too! The time-loop stuff reminds me of 11 Birthdays by Wendy Mass, the first book in a super-fun series! The Shelter and the Fence sounds very powerful as well. Thanks so much for the great reviews!

  2. I also read a review this morning with Mike Thayer on Literary Rambles so your review was a perfect match. Thanks for this and all the great reviews you posted this past week.

  3. The Double Life of Danny Day looks like a book I definitely need to pick up for my library! Thank you for sharing it :)

    Happy reading this week!

  4. Mike Thayer is doing a good job getting reviews for his book. It sounds really fun. I will be looking for The Shelter and the Fence. I had never heard of that bit of history and would like to know more. Thanks for the heads up.

  5. Danny D must be "in the air" - since two folks reviewed it this week. Thank you for your insight into the book, esp the "football video" comparison. Sometimes I think we put too much responsibility on the shoulders of MG characters...

  6. Looks like a fun book. I did enjoy Lost and Found and the Groundhog Day connection is a neat hook.