26 December 2017

Just Like Jackie by Lindsey Stoddard

Just Like Jackie
Lindsey Stoddard
HarperCollins Children's Books
Release Date: Jan 2, 2018

It's been awhile....
Like four years. Whoops. It's not like I stopped reading or anything - in fact, I'd say the opposite.  And just recently I was given the opportunity to read and review some ARC (advanced reader copies) from a local book store.  The one condition to getting the free ARCs is that I must review the ones I particularly like.  So I figured why not review them here as well.  You know, dust off the ol' blog and get back at it!

Cover art courtesy of HarperCollins
Just Like Jackie is an amazing story. If you enjoyed Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt, or Counting By 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan, you will love this book.
Robbie Hart was named after baseball great Jackie Robinson, even though she's nothing like him.  Robbie wishes she could stay calm under pressure, but usually it just boils up and right out of her - like the time Alex Carter called her a motherless bird and she punched him in the face.  He may have deserved it, but when the principal calls Robbie's grandpa into school, she knows there will be trouble.  Robbie's grandpa is having trouble remembering things lately and she's afraid people at the school will find out and blame her.  She knows that if she would just be a better student, then grandpa's memory could rest and his word's wouldn't get confused.
This is an amazing story that, like Counting by 7s and Fish in a Tree is told from Robbie's point of view.  I really love these books because it gives kids a chance to hear their own voice in a novel.  In fact, while I was reading it, I couldn't help but think of a couple of kids at our school who would benefit from reading this book.
I can't help but wonder though, how much of the inferred meaning do kids get out of books like this?  When I read it as an adult, I know that grandpa's memory issues have nothing to do with Robbie's behavior at school...but will a 10-year-old know that when they're reading? And then I wonder - does it really matter? And the answer is no, not really.  I believe deep in my core that if a reader gets lost in a story, then the story has served its purpose, and it is not our place to decide whether or not the reader inferred enough depth of meaning from the story.  I've read the same book (The Book Thief by Markus Zusak) countless times, and each time I read it, I find something new to love and cherish about the story.  That's what makes a book great - one that you'll read multiple times and continue to lose yourself in it, love it, and learn from it. Just Like Jackie has the potential to be that kind of book for kids and adults alike.