Review: The Meaning of Maggie by Megan Jean Sovern

meaning of maggie

The Meaning of Maggie by Megan Jean Sovern

Everything changed in Maggie’s life when she turned eleven.  She was one year closer to college and one year closer to finding out the things that her father said he’d explain in ten years.  Though she knew she’d never be closer to understanding her two gorgeous, leggy older sisters who were mostly interested in boys and ignoring Maggie.  But something else happened that year too.  Maggie’s father had arms and legs that were falling asleep, and now his arms and legs were starting to stay asleep for longer and longer periods of time.  Then Maggie’s mother got a job and her father stayed home.  Now Maggie’s mother was always tired and not around and her father was always around but not able to help with much.  As Maggie steadily figures out what is really happening to her father, this book reveals the impact a serious medical condition can have on even the strongest of families. 

Sovern has written a smart and intriguing heroine into the heart of her book.  Maggie is very bright, gets nearly perfect grades, asks for Coca-Cola stock for her birthday present, and loves to study ahead in her classes.  But she is also wonderfully flawed with her addiction to sugar and her ability to look past what is right in front of her until she is forced to see it.  Sovern excels at family dynamics.  Refreshingly, Maggie relates to each of her parents very differently and the two older sisters in different ways as well.  There is room in this brief book for all of the family members to be individuals.

Sovern also makes sure that though the book deals with serious issues to inject just enough humor into the story.  Maggie doesn’t manage to get everything she wants in the classroom or in life.  She has to learn that there is much outside the scope of her own determination to solve it.  Throughout the book there is clear and organic growth in both Maggie and in her entire family as they all come to terms with her father’s illness.

A book about having a parent with multiple sclerosis, this is also a book about one amazing young woman and her strong family that is filled with love.  Appropriate for ages 8-12.

Reviewed from ARC received from Chronicle Books.

Review: Bad Bye, Good Bye by Deborah Underwood

bad bye good bye

Bad Bye, Good Bye by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Jonathan Bean

On a rainy day, a boy and his family are packing up the moving van and heading to live in a new town.  The little boy pulls at the boxes, tugs at the movers, and cries as they drive away leaving a friend behind.  As they head to their new home, gray clouds clear from the sky and the sun comes out.  Maps are pulled out, naps are taken, and the day brightens.  Night is spent at a motel with a pool and then the next evening they pull into their new town.  Everything is different and new, a new room with new views.  But there’s also a new kid, fireflies and the stars are out too. 

In only the briefest of rhyming couplets, Underwood paints a clear picture of the fear of moving and the emotional upheaval for children.  In their long drive though, the mood shifts to one of possibilities rather than grief.  Even the journey itself is a form of coping and healing that makes the happy ending feel like a natural result of the entire process. 

Bean’s art works so well here.  He uses a translucent feel to evoke the dreary rainy misty day that they move on.  But that same effect is used for the fumes of the traffic on the road, the speeding truck on a steep downhill slope, and the bluesy evening that they arrive.  The effect offers a lot of depth to the images, creating layers to explore visually.

A book on moving that shows that moving on with your life is also part of a major family move.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from library copy.

This Week’s Tweets, Pins and Tumbls

Here are the links I shared on my Twitter, Pinterest, and Tumblr accounts this week that I think are pretty cool:

8 Books About Rockets from


10 Steps to Raising a Lifelong Reader | HarperCollins Children’s Books #reading #kidlit

Cliff McNish’s top 10 dogs in children’s books | Children’s books #kidlit

Disney Partners with Bestselling Children’s Authors for New Star Wars Adaptations #kidlit #starwars

Horn Book has some great recommended reading for Earth Day! #kidlit


As Researchers Turn to Google, Libraries Navigate the Messy World of Discovery Tools – Chronicle of Higher Education

The future of the library: How they’ll evolve for the digital age. #libraries

Use videos to advocate for libraries #libraries


Actually, online skimming probably hasn’t affected serious reading after all #ebooks #reading

Children Who Visit Museums Have Higher Achievement in Reading, Math, and Science | UpNext: The IMLS Blog

"Where do you buy these?" – The Horn Book #reading #libraries


Sherman Alexie novel given out in Idaho school district that banned it #yalit

YA Adaptations Are Now Turning to Male Leads #yalit

YA Historical Fiction for Downton Abbey Fans| Lisa Parkin | #yalit