Here's how the publisher describes the plot:
It’s the start of the school year, and nothing feels right to Justin. He didn’t get the teacher he wanted, he’s not in the same class as his best friend, and his little sister, Elizabeth, is starting kindergarten at his school. Elizabeth doesn’t seem nervous at all. Justin is very nervous about third grade. And to top it off, he’s lost his favorite stuffed animal, but he can’t tell anyone, because technically he’s too old to still have stuffed animals. Right? Here is third grade in all its complicated glory—the friendships, the fears, and the advanced math. Acclaimed author Rachel Vail captures third grade with a perfect pitch, and Matthew Cordell’s line art is both humorous and touching. As Justin bravely tries to step out of his shell, he will step into readers’ hearts.
I discovered this book last July, at the SCBWI LA conference. Rachel read a section from it in one of her breakout sessions, and I was hooked. There aren't a lot of books out there about kids who worry like this--and as a kid who worried a LOT (okay, FINE--I still worry a lot as an adult. My husband and friends and even my agent will verify)--I had to know more about how this very nervous little boy coped. And I was a fangirl from the first page.
Justin is instantly likable--and so relatable. Rachel NAILED his voice. And she does an expert job of showing us how unrealistic his fears often are, but at the same time making us understand why they are very much a real concern for him. We feel what he feels, and we're worrying for him and rooting for him just as much as he is for himself.
Filled with clever, funny illustrations and written in journal style, this is a GREAT book for reluctant readers. But avid readers will gobble it up too. As will adults. I highly, highly recommend you give it a chance. The paperback comes out this week (so. excited!). But I'm also giving away a hardcover to one lucky commenter on this post.
**Update: Rachel, in all her awesomeness, is offering a signed and personalized bookplate to go with the winner's prize. So now you get the hardcover and a signed bookplate to go inside. Thank you Rachel!**
To enter, simply follow my blog and leave a comment by 11:59 pm PDT on Saturday, May 14th. I'll draw one random winner and post their name on Sunday, May 15th. International entries welcome! Good luck!
For more information on Rachel or any of her amazing books, make sure you check out her website. Click HERE to be taken straight there.
For more incredible middle-grade recommendations, check out the other MMGMs happening in the blogosphere:
-Joanne Fritz discusses THE SHADOW CHILDREN SEQUENCE books. Click HERE to read her review.
-Shannon O'Donnell always has an awesome MMGM recommendation. Click HERE to see what she's featuring this week.
-Natalie Aguirre is interviewing author Rosanne Parry, with a giveaway of SECOND FIDDLE. Click HERE to read more and enter.
-Sheri Larson is hosting author Kari Lee Townsend on her blog to talk about SAMANTHA GRANGER. Click HERE to read the interview.
-Barbara Watson is highlighting STEINBECK'S GHOST. Click HERE to see what she thinks.
-Sherrie Peterson, is reviewing the audiobook for THE INDIAN IN THE CUPBOARD. Click HERE to read all about it.
-Aly Beecher is featuring JEREMY BENDER VS THE CUPCAKE CADETS. Click HERE to read her review.
-Anita Miller is showcasing HEAT. Click HERE to learn more about it.
-Deb Marshall is featuring COLD CASE. Click HERE to read her review.
-Michael Gettel-Gilmartin makes his MMGM debut, featuring THE WEDNESDAY WARS. Click HERE to read more about it.
And if you've done an MMGM on your blog and would like me to link you, drop me an email and I'll update the post.