Monday, May 23, 2016

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: CICI RENO #MIDDLESCHOOLMATCHMAKER by Kristina Springer

CICI RENO #MIDDLESCHOOLMATCHMAKER by Kristina Springer (Sterling 2016)

Somebody raved about this on Twitter (see, Twitter has some uses) and I immediately needed to read it for the tag-line alone: "She's Cyrano de Bergerac in yoga pants..."

I wasn't disappointed.

What It's About (via Goodreads blurb):
Middle school is a test, but Cici Reno has all the answers. She's the go-to girl for advice. She's cool, she's funny, and she's enlightened (thanks to yoga classes at her mom's studio). So when her pretty BFF, Aggie, is too shy to speak to the boy she's crushing on, Cici goes online and does the talking for her. The only problem is, Cici starts to fall for the guy herself! For the first time in her life. she doesn't have a clue.

Opening Lines: 
"Ugh. My nail polish is smudged. I glance around for something to wipe up the blue-green nail polish on the side of my toe. Spotting nothing else available on the pool deck, I decide to use my beach towel. There. Much better."

Things to Admire:
First off, the cover is brilliant--a real snatch-off-the shelfer. This book perfectly catches all the middle school drama, and Cici is an endearing character: quick-witted, intelligent, and a friend to all. Being a yoga fan myself--I have to be, working for The Don and enduring all the stress he puts me under!--I enjoyed the way each chapter began with a yoga-inspired tweet from Cici. (Although I have to say that Twitter, judging from my 7th-grade son's choices, is not the go-to media platform for middle schoolers. That would be Instagram.)

The middle-school voice was pure brilliance--and laugh-out-loud funny at times, from the way Cici bickers with her brother, to the comments she shares with her bestie, Aggie, about their teachers:
"...Mr. Adwell, the gym teacher. Did you know he's dating the school librarian? Guess he's been checking out more than books."
"Ewwww," Aggie says. "They're both, like, a hundred years old."
"Senior citizens need love too, Aggie. Don't judge." 
For writers: If you want to see how to write a fast-paced and humorous book set in middle-school, look no further than CICI RENO!

I was able to get in touch with Kristina Springer and ask her my Notorious Mafioso Questions. Here are her responses:

1) Who are your favorite (middle grade) writers?
Lauren Myracle, Meg Cabot, R.J. Palacio, Sarah Mlynowski

2) What's on your nightstand now?
An advanced copy of Howard Wallace, P.I. by Casey Lyall

3) Pick a favorite scene from your novel, and say why you like it.
I LOVE the scene at the hockey rink in chapter 27. I don't want to say too much but it's a goose-bumpy kind of scene.

4) Fill in the blank: I'm really awesome at.... being a mom. :-)

5) My favorite breakfast is... eggs w/ avocado slices

6) If you could visit any place, where would it be? Italy (MGM: Kristina, The Don says grazie!)

About the Author (from her website):
Kristina Springer is the bestselling middle grade and young adult author of The Espressologist, My Fake Boyfriend is Better Than Yours, the Just Your Average line of books (Just Your Average Princess, Just Your Average Geek, and Just Your Average Celebrity), and the forthcoming Cici Reno #MiddleSchoolMatchmaker (Sterling Children's/April 2016). She has a Masters in Writing from DePaul University and resides in a suburb of Chicago with her husband and children.
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