Monday, August 26, 2019

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: THE WORLD ENDS IN APRIL by Stacy McAnulty

THE WORLD ENDS IN APRIL by Stacy McAnulty (Random House Books for Young Readers, September 3, 2019)

What It's About (from Stacy's website):
Eleanor Dross knows a thing or two about the end of the world,  thanks to a survivalist grandfather who stockpiles freeze-dried food and supplies--just in case. So when she reads about a Harvard scientist's prediction that an asteroid will strike Earth in April, Eleanor knows her family will be prepared. Her classmates? They're on their own!

Eleanor  has just one friend she wants to keep safe: Mack. They've been best  friends since kindergarten, even though he's more of a smiley emoji and she's more of an eye-roll emoji. They'll survive the end of the world  together. . . if Mack doesn't go away to a special school for the  blind.

But it's hard to keep quiet about a life-destroying asteroid--especially at a crowded lunch table--and soon Eleanor is the  president of the (secret) End of the World Club. It turns out that prepping for TEOTWAWKI (the End of the World as We Know It) is actually  kind of fun. But you can't really prepare for everything life drops on  you. And one way or another, Eleanor's world is about to change.

Opening Lines: 
"Mack Jefferson, my best--and only--friend, reads to me from his Braille edition of The Outsiders. I'm spread out on the floor of my bedroom with my dog, Bubbles, running my hand through her soft belly fur and wondering if we have any pudding cups in the pantry."

The Mafioso's Verdict:
As you probably know from my post last month, things have been a little different on the Mafioso reading and writing front. I'm still enjoying my new job, and I'm still researching Shanghai in the 1930s, but I did also get the yen to read some middle grade (hooray!) As one of my clients stays in bed until 9:30 a.m., and I get to work at 7, I have a good couple of hours to plunge into a novel.

How did I choose Stacy McAnulty's book over the boxes of books waiting for my eagle eye and perusal? The eye-catching cover, for one, but also the fact that it involved a survivalist grandfather, a character I hadn't come across before. Good criminy, thought I, with the planet hurtling towards destruction via our making the climate go wonky, this should be a good read.

I wasn't disappointed. Except the planet's destruction in this case, is potentially via asteroid. I really liked the way the author wove in astronomy and science, and the way I was reminded that I really need to collect items for my emergency readiness kit. (In Portland, it's all about the "big one", the earthquake we're constantly told we are overdue for.)

The MC, Eleanor Dross, could have been a bit of a sad sack, but seeing things through her POV, we appreciate her inner life and her way of describing things. ("I never thought about a kid being lonely on Christmas. In commercials and movies, it's always old people who are alone. A gray-haired lady and her cats or the grumpy neighbor who spends most of his time shoveling." page 174) Eleanor's best friend is the sunny Mack, and she has a nemesis, Londyn Diggs, with whom she develops an initially prickly friendship. This character arc was especially well done.

This would be a fun read in a 5th/6th grade classroom, with the possibility for an important discussion about emergency prep, NASA, how to figure out if a website is a legitimate source or not, or setting up a school club. I'd certainly read other work by this talented, humorous author!

About The Author (from the author's website):
Stacy McAnulty is a children’s book author, who used to be a mechanical engineer, and dreams of someday being a dog therapist, a correspondent for The Daily Show, an astronaut, and a Green Bay Packer coach. She has written dozens of books including her debut middle-grade novel, The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl , an Indie Bestseller, and the 2017 Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Honor book Excellent Ed, illustrated by Julia Sarcone-Roach. Her other picture books include Earth! My First 4.54 Billion Years, illustrated by David Litchfield; Moon! Earth’s Best Friend and Sun! One in a Billion, both illustrated by Stevie Lewis; Max Explains Everything: Grocery Store Expert and Soccer Expert, both illustrated by Deborah Hocking; Love, Brave, and Beautiful, all three illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff; Mr. Fuzzbuster Knows He’s the Favorite, illustrated by Edward Hemingway; and 101 Reasons Why I’m Not Taking a Bath, illustrated by Joy Ang. She’s also authored the chapter book series The Dino Files and Goldie Blox. When not writing, Stacy likes to listen to NPR, bake triple-chocolate cupcakes, and eat triple-chocolate cupcakes. Originally from upstate NY, she now lives in Kernersville, NC with her 3 kids, 3 dogs, and 1 husband.
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