Monday, August 10, 2020

My Life in the Fish Tank by Barbara Dee

My Life in the Fish Tank
by Barbara Dee
Expected Publication September 15, 2020
Aladdin Books (Simon and Shuster)
Middle Grade Novel
320 Pages
Review copy Provided by Publisher

Goodreads Summary
When twelve-year-old Zinnia Manning’s older brother Gabriel is diagnosed with a mental illness, the family’s world is turned upside down. Mom and Dad want Zinny, her sixteen-year-old sister, Scarlett, and her eight-year-old brother, Aiden, to keep Gabriel’s condition “private”—and to Zinny that sounds the same as “secret.” Which means she can’t talk about it to her two best friends, who don’t understand why Zinny keeps pushing them away, turning everything into a joke.

It also means she can’t talk about it during Lunch Club, a group run by the school guidance counselor. How did Zinny get stuck in this weird club, anyway? She certainly doesn’t have anything in common with these kids—and even if she did, she’d never betray her family’s secret.

The only good thing about school is science class, where cool teacher Ms. Molina has them doing experiments on crayfish. And when Zinny has the chance to attend a dream marine biology camp for the summer, she doesn’t know what to do. How can Zinny move forward when Gabriel—and, really, her whole family—still needs her help?

My Thoughts
I was already a fan of Barbara Dee after reading Halfway Normal, Everything I Know About You and Maybe He Just Likes You, so I knew this was going to be a really great story.  And I was right! After her older brother, Gabriel, is in a car accident, it is revealed that he is also living with bipolar disorder which has led to him exhibiting some risky and dangerous behaviors. Shortly after, Gabriel leaves home to get treatment in a residential facility and the family is in a state or upheaval. Zinny needs to deal with her feelings of guilt, shame, anxiety and has lost friendships. One of the aspects of this book that I enjoyed is the focus is not fully on Gabriel, his disorder and recovery, but more on how the diagnosis has impacted the family. 
The story is narrated in third person which is effective in showing how each member of the family deals with this challenge in their own way. Dee explores each character to show a full spectrum of coping strategies and feelings. 
I would highly recommend this book for grades 5-8. It would also make a good read aloud for grades 4+. 

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Sunday, August 2, 2020

It's Monday, What Are you Reading? August 3, 2020

Please visit the amazing blogs: Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers who host this terrific meme each week.

Here are a few books I read last week at the lake. Click on the covers to go to the book's page on Goodreads.

A nonfiction graphic novel showing how women (very slowly) became part of space exploration in the US. 

I fell in love with the main characters, but all of the characters are extremely well-developed. The many story lines weave together beautifully and Pennypacker does an excellent job of making the setting feel like a character. 

This one was not for me.

This book is quite different from many historical fiction books. The reader travels through time with a sharecropper family from the Mississippi south. I was invested in the characters and wanted to see how it continued to develop. 
Obtained from Netgalley.

I read the digital galley, which did not have all the images quite yet so I did not get to see all the maps and illustrations. It is filled with really interesting facts about the staff that have supported the First Family for decades. 
Obtained from Netgalley.

Wow! A beautiful collection of old and new poems by the US Poet Laureate, Noami Shihab Nye. My faves were Always Bring a Pencil and Gate A-4. 
Obtained from Netgalley.

Currently Listening

Currently Reading