The Science of Breakable Things

5 CDs. 5:13 hrs. Listening Library. Mar. 2018. $45. ISBN 9780525525691. digital download.
Gr 3–7—When Natalie's new seventh grade science teacher hands out journals so each student can spend the school year pondering their own "big question," Natalie is hesitant. She used to love science, and alongside her botanist mother, she performed all sorts of experiments. But her mother's depression has kept her in bed for weeks, and the only question Natalie cares about now is: How she can get her mom back? At her science teacher's encouragement, she and her friends Twig and Dari enter an egg-drop competition, and Natalie secretly hopes to use the prize money to cheer her mother up with her favorite plant, a cobalt blue orchid. Narrator Jennifer Kim deftly portrays Natalie's range of emotions, including worry, hope, excitement, frustration, and determination as she navigates not only challenging relationships with friends, but also her secret struggle with her Mom's depression.
VERDICT This unforgettable debut has strong STEM tie-ins, and the realistic yet sensitive portrayal of mental illness hits just the right notes for middle grade listeners.

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