Monday, January 9, 2017

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: BREAKING THE ICE by Gail Nall

BREAKING THE ICE by Gail Nall (Aladdin, January 2015)

I am a big fan of middle grade sports books (I'm currently reading one--GHOST by Jason Reynolds--and writing one myself. Mine's about tennis.) I read this for the Cybils awards in 2015, and really enjoyed it!

What It's About (via Goodreads):
Kaitlin has always dreamed of being a champion figure skater, and she’s given up a lot to pursue her passion. But after having a totally uncharacteristic and decidedly NOT figure-skating-approved tantrum after getting her scores at a major competition she’s dropped by her coach and prestigious skating club.

When no other club in town will have her, she's forced to join the ridiculed and rundown Fallton Club, jokingly referred to as the Fall Down Club. At first Kaitlin thinks this is a complete disaster, but after meeting some of the other skaters, including a boy (who happens to have the most perfect hair she’s ever seen) Kaitlin thinks it might actually not be so bad.

But when she’s tasked with learning a whole new program right before Regionals and figures out that almost all the other skaters target Fallton, she thinks joining the Fall Down Club may just be the second biggest mistake she’s ever made.

Opening Lines:
"I have my fingers crossed for a gold medal.
Not where everyone can see them, of course, but hidden in the sleeve of my maroon-and-white Ridgeline Figure Skating Club jacket. If I win this competition, it'll show the judges I'm the skater to beat at Regionals in October."

Four Things To Love:

  1.  I can't say I'm a diehard skating fan, but I do like to watch competitions like the Olympics and the World Championships. I also know what a salchow, a lutz, and a toe loop are. One of the riveting things about watching skaters compete is, as in gymnastics, the mix of artistry with power. And, with every jump, you have your heart in your throat, hoping there won't be a disaster. Which is all to say that I enjoyed the subject, and I think many sports-minded readers would do too.
  2. The character of Kaitlin. Technically strong, she needs to develop her artistry. Inwardly, she can be tempestuous (though not brattily so), so we know she can do it. Her concerns--about friendship and fitting in--are appropriately middle grade too.
  3. The friendships. In her former club, Kaitlin has a friend, Ellery, who is really what I've heard called a 'frenemy.' Ellery is superficial and drops Kaitlin like a hot potato when she is forced to change clubs. In the new club, Kaitlin finds people who are more worthy of friendship (Miyu). Gail Nall did a great job depicting this most important middle grade theme. 
  4. The parents. Both Kaitlin's mom and dad are alive. (You know my feelings about MG 'orphan syndrome.')
BREAKING THE ICE was Gail Nall's middle grade debut, and it was a good one. As you can see in her bio below, she is quite prolific!

About The Author (from Goodreads bio):

Gail Nall lives in Louisville, Kentucky with her family and more cats than necessary. She grew up skating, and as a teenager working at the local rink, she rented skates and made nachos (but not at the same time). She spends her early mornings writing contemporary middle grade fiction, her days writing grants for a non-profit, and her evenings reading and trying to stay up past eight o'clock. Her obsessions include hiking and camping, travel, history, and food. Gail's middle grade novels include BREAKING THE ICE and the YOU'RE INVITED series (co-written with Jen Malone), all from Aladdin/Simon & Schuster. She is also the author of the YA novel, EXIT STAGE LEFT (EpicReads Impulse/Harper). Her upcoming books include OUT OF TUNE (Aladdin/S&S, 11/8/16) and the co-authored BEST.NIGHT.EVER. (8/15/17)

CONTACT: Website  Facebook  Twitter


  1. Sounds like a great story. Skating is popular with girls so I bet it will be popular with them. Cute cover too.

  2. I enjoyed this one, too. I learned a lot about figure skating and the tale was captivating. Girls especially embrace this story.

  3. Thanks. I'll check this out. I think it would be a good choice for our class library.

  4. always up for sports stories, and always good to find one that features a girl.

  5. I loved this book as well! Thanks for the review.
    - Vi

  6. I'd love this book. I figured skated as a child, teen and in college. Yes, I remember the mean girls. Will check this out. Thanks!

  7. I remember hearing about this one. The only figure skating book I've ever read is GOLD MEDAL WINTER by Donna Freitas.

  8. This book sounds great! I like the premise. Thanks for the review!

  9. I like to watch skating, too, but don't know as much as you do about it. This should be a great addition to the MG shelves. There aren't a lot of skating books out there. Thanks for the review.


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