Welcome Back, Maple Mehta-Cohen

Candlewick. Oct. 2021. 288p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781536215588.
Gr 4-7–Maple Mehta-Cohen has a secret, and she has worked hard to make sure no one finds out. Maple loves to tell, and spends much of her time dictating, her stories about her half-Indian, half-Jewish sleuth into her recorder. But despite her storytelling ability and expansive vocabulary, Maple doesn’t know how to read. Her teacher thought it best for Maple to repeat fifth grade so that she can get help with reading. But Maple is not sure about this plan. It means leaving her two best friends, Aislinn and Marigold, and having everyone wonder why she is still in fifth grade. When the school year starts, things aren’t better. Maple’s teacher asks her to help new kid Jack learn his way around the school, plus she must go to Ms. Fine’s group—the one that is for students who can’t read. When Jack asks why Maple is still in fifth grade, the lies start, and Maple isn’t sure she can stop. She is caught telling stories to her new friends in her reading group, trying to keep her old friends who don’t seem to want to spend time with a fifth-grader, and staying true to herself. Though poignant, with so many different things happening, the novel doesn’t really get to the depth of Maple’s reading struggles, or her issues with friends, leaving the ending feeling unresolved.
VERDICT For young people who struggle with reading or feeling different because of other academic issues, Maple is a welcome protagonist.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing