2 Middle Grade Novels About Becoming Big Sisters

These two titles feature young female protagonists who, among their busy lives, are also dealing with all the excitement and anxiety a new sibling can bring.

These two disparate titles feature young female protagonists who, among their busy lives, are also dealing with all the excitement and anxiety a new sibling can bring. Lou Fox is struggling to prove her value to the adults in her life while navigating dyslexia and ADHD, and the imminent arrival of a baby that may take all her parents’ attention in The U-nique Lou Fox. In Tumble, Adela is prompted by her mother and stepfather’s news that there’s a baby on the way to track down her own dad in a painful yet enriching journey of reconciliation.

Carmichael, Jodi. The U-nique Lou Fox. 240p. Pajama Pr. Aug. 2022. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9781772782585.
Gr 3-7 –Fifth grader Louisa Elizabeth Fitzhenry-O’Shaughnessy is creative, innovative, warm, a fierce friend, and a loving daughter. Lou aspires to be a Broadway playwright and a Cirque du Soleil ­performer, and she practices her theater and gymnastics skills with her two best friends, Lexie and Nakessa, every chance she has. Lou is highly verbal and terrific in art class, but because she has dyslexia and ADHD, she finds schoolwork involving reading, writing, and memorization a frustrating slog. Lou’s imagination runs wild during class, and when her teacher Mrs. Snyder constantly clocks her daydreaming, Lou comes to believe that Mrs. Snyder just doesn’t like her. When Lou learns she is about to become a big sister, her anxiety at school extends to home. Lou mistakenly believes that she needs to prove her worth to the adults in her life: she needs to be perfect in her behavior and schoolwork, so her mother is proud, and she needs to direct and write a perfect play so Mrs. ­Snyder sees how much work she is putting in at school. In Lou Fox, Carmichael has created a refreshing, believable, and fun-loving protagonist who will be a welcome addition to library shelves. Her navigation of stage fright, jealousy, friendship, and schoolwork is deftly written with believable examples. ­Despite Lou’s anxiety about school and home life and frequent pitfalls and fresh starts, the book flows at a cheerful, bouncing pace. The very short chapters, often between two and six pages, will build confidence for emerging readers. The font was selected with readers with dyslexia in mind, with emphasized words bolded and back matter sharing information and resources about dyslexia and ADHD. Lou is cued as white. VERDICT Prepare to fall in love with Lou Fox and her supportive cast of family, friends, and teachers. Recommended for fiction collections.–Lauren Younger

Pérez, Celia C. Tumble. 368p. Penguin/Kokila. Aug. 2022. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780593325179.
Gr 5 Up –This fresh realistic fiction novel is heartwarming, adventurous, and strong. Adela Ramírez is 12 and living in New Mexico. Growing up with a single mom never bothered her, until her stepfather Alex asks to adopt her. Now she has an overwhelming decision. She loves Alex and loves the life they have created with her mother and soon-to-arrive baby brother, but Adela has strong feelings about her father having to give up his parental rights in order for Alex to adopt her. Alex sets out on her own to find out who her father is, and why he left without a trace. Adela’s detective skills serve her well, but what will she do now that her father is found and back in the picture? Will they be able to have the father-daughter relationship that she has dreamed of? Will she fit into his celebrity luchador wrestling family, the Bravos? Middle grade readers will find resonance in the realistic flow of this novel. Pérez writes the struggle of Adela and her family in an authentic way throughout. The ups and downs mixed with the mystery of why Adela’s mother kept so much of her life with her father a secret will have readers wanting more. Fans of luchador wrestlers and wrestling will appreciate the sports themes woven all around the family story. Hand this to fans of Pérez’sStrange Birds: A Field Guide to Ruffling Feathers. VERDICT A novel that wrestles with the complex emotions of family and beginnings; a must-have for any library collection serving tweens.–Elizabeth Pelayo

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