Monday, July 04, 2022

MMGM- The Great G.O.A.T. Debate and Be Real, Macy Weaver

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday
and #IMWAYR day 

Volponi, Paul. The Great Goat Debate: The Best of the Best in Everything from Sports to Science
March 9th 2022 by Rowman & Littlefield Publishers 
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central

This paper-over-board book is described on the publication data page as a "vade mecum", a phrase which I had to look up! Sure enough, it stays true to the Latin in the definition by Merriam-Webster describing it as "a book for ready reference : manual" and "Something regularly carried about by a person". I often talk about some atlases and National Geographic books like Drimmer's More Surprising Stories Behind Everyday Stuff as being good books for long car trips, and The Great G.O.A.T. Debate would suit this purpose beautifully for older middle and high school readers. 

Unlike the National Geographic books, this does not have a lot of glossy, colorful pictures, although there are a selected few black and white ones. Instead, this concentrates on factual information about two sides of a wide selection of debates about who or what is the "greatest of all time". From topics I've heard kids discuss passionately, like whether Star Wars of Star Trek is better, and whether Justice League or Avengers rule to more esoteric pairings like Plato vs. Camus and stunt people Dar Robinson vs. Jeannie Epper, there are a wide range of entries. I liked that there was an attempt to include more diverse historical figures, like wrestler Mildred Burke, jockey Angel Cordero, architect Zaha Hadid, and chess player Hou Yifan.

Each chapter offers a brief introduction to the topic (bands, inventors, video games),  a biography or history of both people, products, or events, and a starting point for a debate. What are the arguments that can be made for each entry of which would be the greatest? There is also a "lightning debate" prompt that is tangential to the topic at hand, or additional information on something that is related to the subject being discussed, such as air guitar at the end of the chapter debating Jimi Hendrix vs. B.B. King as the best electric guitar player. 

I started this book thinking that there would just be information about the different entries for G.O.A.T., but this is really a book instructing readers how to evaluate and present information critically, and construct solid debates. This would be a great book for someone who has to present a debate for school or who is just naturally argumentative and wants to home skills! It really is a unique sort of book, but Volponi, whose young adult books like Final Four and Black and White are hugely popular in my middle school library, knows how to intrigue and invest young readers in his topics. 

By the way, Frank Lloyd Wright all the way, and definitely Babe Didrikson Zaharias. Don't know who they are? You may need to look them up. I'll be busy polishing my arguments in support of their greatness!

Wilson, Lakita. Be Real, Macy Weaver
July 12th 2022 by Viking Books for Young Readers
E ARC Provided by Edelweiss Plus

Macy lives in South Carolina with her father, who is a postal worker, and her mother, who works at a bank but is unfulfilled and is constantly redecorating their home. Macy has trouble keeping friends, and has fallen out with Mia, Darby, and Payton during her fifth grade year. She's friends with Josie, who moved to her school late in the year, and she's excited to spend the summer with a best friend... until Josie also drops her and starts hanging out with Jazmin and Jalaya, posting pictures of the fun they are having on InstaSlam. After Macy likes too many of the posts, Josie blocks her! There are bigger problems, however; her mother has gotten accepted into a psychology program... at the University of Maryland. Even though it's expensive, she really wants to go. The university has even offered her housing, but when it's decided that Macy and her father will also move to Maryland, the housing turns out to be a single dorm room, and Macy and her father end up in a run down apartment building. There's an old Singer sewing machine in Macy's room, and kindly neighbor PJ, an older woman, offers to help her learn to use it, but Macy is angry with her family situation and resents her overtures. Starting at her new school, Macy tries hard to be friendly and does get along with Brynn and Grace, but lies and says that her mother is a famous fashion photographer when Brynn says she is interested in modeling and notices that Macy's sweater is a designer cashmere number. Grace wants to be a lawyer, and is often picked on by the boys in their class for being fat. Macy goes through her mother's clothes and accessories, and wears many of them to school, even though they aren't really appropriate. Neighbor Pax, who dresses all in black and is constantly scribbling in a notebook, finally talks to her about her fashion choices. He really likes the reality show "Stitched" and wants to be a designer, but his brothers make fun of him, and his Dominican family doesn't really understand him. Brynn plans a birthday party at a hotel in D.C. during fashion week, and Pax and Macy hope to launch their own brand, House of Anomaly, which consists of reworked, quirky garments they have fashioned, with PJ's help, from secondhand clothes and treasures from dumpster diving. When Brynn's mother loses her job and Macy overhears her telling Grace, Macy tries to be supportive, but Brynn thinks that Grace broke her confidence and is angry with both of them. Macy starts to realize that her mother is pulling further and further away from the family, and lying about the work that she is doing, which could have been all done online. Will Macy finally be able to keep friends, and will her family situation settle down? There were a lot of interesting things going on in this book that will appeal to readers who like fashion, friend drama, or ghost-free moving stories. 
Strengths: Parents are a big part of tweens' lives, and their actions have a huge effect on children. It's interesting that Macy wants to move to another city to escape her friendship situation. I liked that while her mother was not at all supportive, her father was, and she had teachers and PJ to help her out. The concept of lying about oneself to others should be explored more in middle grade  literature; how many of us went to summer camp and tried to reinvent ourselves, ala Kimmel's The Reinvention of Moxie Roosevelt? I liked that Brynn and Grace were fairly welcoming, but their friendship with Macy still wasn't entirely smooth. Pax is a well developed character; he almost deserves a book by himself. 
Weaknesses: I can tell Macy why she can't keep friends; she is very needy! Her relationship with Josie is unfortunate. The mother is one of the most quietly horrible parents in middle grade literature; I wish that there was more of a resolution with how her mother was treating her.
What I really think: This is a great choice for readers who love Taylor's Sew Zoey, Schroeder's My Secret Guide to Paris, Stone's Paris for Two, Devillers' Lynn Visible, or Johnson's fun Hello, Cruel Heart. I'm a big fan of characters who sew, and while Macy and Pax's designs are a little quirky, it's a fun story with TONS of friend drama, which is always popular. 

I've been trying to be better about breaking down my statistics. Believe it or not, I feel like I am a bit behind on my reading; it's just been hard to focus, even though I haven't been doing any sewing or... well, anything else, really. 

Schedule pick up is in a month, and I'm sort of ready to go back to school. While this coming year will hopefully be better than the last couple, it will also be a little odd, since my district is opening a new school NEXT year, and my school will lose a few teachers. Who knows how the staff will be affected. I am hoping to stay at my school, because the new school would mean walking an 8 mile round trip. Doable, but not much fun in the rain or snow.

Hope everyone has a pleasant and safe 4th of July!


  1. Both of these books look great, Karen! The Great G.O.A.T. Debate sounds like a really fun premise for a book of different facts—I can imagine kids will devour that one. Be Real, Macy Weaver sounds like a really compelling novel as well, with some great plot elements, although it's a shame that the mother's unfortunate parenting is never addressed. And I hope this next school year goes well for you and the new school opening doesn't make for too much chaos—I certainly hope you don't have to switch schools! Thanks so much for the wonderful post!

  2. Your reviews today had me messaging the librarian at the local school to see if these were on the list to be purchased. No answer yet. Hope all goes well with the changes for the upcoming school year. Thanks for featuring your post on MMGM this week.

  3. I look forward to the day when I can purchase books like The Great G.O.A.T. Debate for my grandchildren. It's the sewing machine and the making of your own clothes in Be Real, Macy Weaver that piques my interest. I purchased some gorgeous emerald green linen that I still haven't figured out what to do with. Maybe some of these kids styles will inspire me?

  4. Anonymous10:07 PM EDT

    I’m trying to up my NF game in my library, so I’m definitely going to need that GOAT debate!
    I’m not sure if the other would circulate in my library—friendship based MG doesn’t do well.

    Hope everything works out at your school!

  5. I am trying to up my NF game in my library to get better circulation, so I need to grab the GOAT debate; kids will love it!

    Be Real looks cute but I don’t think it would circulate well in my library. Friendship-based MG doesn’t do well.

    I hope everything at your school works out!!

  6. Anonymous10:32 PM EDT

    The Great G.O.A.T. Debate sounds like a different way of looking at some of those Best of... type books. They kind of become dated, but the way you described how the book shows you how to evaluate that kind of thing makes it sound a little less prone to that. Also, my students love using the term G.O.A.T. I am sold. Thanks for the post.