Sunday, March 27, 2022

Sir Fig Newton and the Science of Persistence

Thomas, Sonia. Sir Fig Newton and the Science of Persistence
March 22nd 2022 by Aladdin
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Mira is all set to have a great summer in Florida with her best friend Thomas, going to camp and doing science experiements (like microwaving grapes; this doesn't end well), but when his family suddenly relocates to Washington, D.C. Their fathers both were engineers at a company that laid off many workers, and her father (who is Black) is struggling to find a job. Her mother (who is white) has gone back to work, leaving the family at the mercy of the father's less than spectacular cooking skills. When Mira breaks her mother's old phone, there is no chance she will get it replaced, so she has to rely on the landline to talk to Thomas. When her cat, Sir Fig Newton, seems lethargic, she is worried about him. Research leads her to believe he might have diabetes, but she is sent to spend time with her grandmother before she can tell her parents. Her father's  mother is active in her church, very proper, and loves cats as well. Mira finds it somewhat difficult to connect to herr, because she lives an hour away and the two don't spend much time together, but finds that her grandmother is supportive. Armed with a magazine article about feline diabetes, Mira tells her parents about her cat when she gets home, and they take Sir Fig Newton to the vet right away. Mira's diagnosis is correct, but the treatment is expensive. On top of some other emergencies, the family doesn't have the money, and the parents feel that the best option is to give the cat up for adoption. Mira, still reeling from Thomas' departure, begs for time to raise funds. When her nemesis, Tamika, moves into Thomas' house, she finds an unlikely ally. She tries a number of ways to make money, like babysitting, dog walking, and running a lemonade stand. Mira is also deep into an experiment to try to improve her father's mood with music. Will Mira, along with her new friend, Tamkia, be able to save Sir Fig Newton?
Strengths: Having a parent in an unstable job situation is definitely becoming more common in reality, so it's good to see this in fiction. That said, I was also glad to see that the mother had steady employment, and that the father eventually found work. The impact of this on Mira's life is portrayed in a very pragmatic way, and she understands her parents' motivations, even if she doesn't agree with them. Dealing with the sickness of a pet is something many young readers will understand as well. I liked the relationship with Tamkia; a lot of tweens have preconcieved notions about fellow classmates that change when they get to know the other person. I'd love to see more of this in middle grade literature. Throwin in a grandparent or two never hurts. 
Weaknesses: This is a bit on the long side at over 350 pages; it almost could have been two books. The cover makes this look a bit younger than it is. 
What I really think: Add this to the list of friendship stories that also include science, like Rosenberg's One Small HopDoleski's Mary Underwater and PĂ©rez's Strange Birds: A Field Guide to Ruffling Feathers.

1 comment:

  1. I like the sound of this book, and I am not sure if it is because it features a sick pet and a noble cause to help him, or because of the cat's name :). Thanks for the review.