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Friday, August 10, 2012

Find YOUR Voice: Minnie McClary Speaks Her Mind by Valerie Hobbs

Hi there!
Welcome back to Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers….the place to be when you want to talk books, books and MORE books, with a little side of life thrown in for good measure. 

A quick reminder and then on to today’s post….don’t forget to get your entries in for a chance to win a copy of The Pack by LM Preston!  The contest draws to a close 08/12/12 and is open INTERNATIONALLY so spread the word and don’t miss out on book one of her fabulous YA series. Thank you for your attention; now back to your regularly scheduled reading….

When you write a review on a book you’ve read, do you do it immediately afterward?  Do you let it lull around in your mind until just the right moment?  Are you somewhere in between?  For me, it depends on the book…and my available time (busy little bee that I am).  The one thing that is consistent is that I can’t think TOO much about the actual review until I’m writing (you know, with a pen and paper….*watches you faint*…_grabs smelling salts_) or typing it up.  Sounds odd, right?  I have a perfectly good reason I’ll have you know.  You see, for me…once the words are properly arranged in my mind and either the power of thought or voice is applied….POOF, they disappear. 

Now I don’t mean I forget everything about the book or what I thought, it’s just the exact layout of the thought with the precisely chosen tone, etc escapes my grasp.  In other words, when Blogger has a faux pas, it’s more than a simple cringe.  I know that I can create another review, it came from my mind after all but I also know it’ll never be exactly the same; something will always seem off…to me (and usually only me).  Why am I sharing all of this with you?  Just cuz…^_^…plus it’s fun to hear what you guys do as well and that perhaps my own writing style is shared by another.  Anywho…back to today’s review and the land of Children’s Fiction….

The book I am featuring today just celebrated its bookish birthday this week but the release was in my opinion one of those subtleties that could have been overlooked.  It’s okay!  I hear you…there are A LOT of new and notable books coming out each and every week, but this is one of those sleeper titles that is full of huge-ness yet to be realized.  It’s THAT good.  (Oops!  Spilled the beans…I REALLY liked it!  If you’re an “in-and-out” visitor, it’s safe to go now.  If you stay though…I promise you’ll have another book on your must read list before the post is through…if you haven’t added it already that is.)  Without further ado, today’s book of choice is….


About the book
Diminutive, shy, and quiet, sixth-grader Minnie McClary learns how to use her power and her voice to stand up for what she knows is right.

The synopsis there comes from the author’s site.  Why so short? Well, the one on the publisher’s site was rather lovely as well and a bit longer but I don’t want to give TOO much away at this point.  This is one of those gems you need to read for yourself.  Doesn’t look like your cup of tea?  I know, the siren call of the cover may not be there for most readers unless you are of a particular age range (as in the “target audience”) however as with all things…looks can be deceiving. 

One of the recurring scenes in the book is when Ms. Marks has her students write in their new journals, capturing their thoughts, imaginations, and ponderings…but even BEFORE the journals came, there was a unique introduction from her to them and vice versa.  You see, she was their latest substitute-maybe-permanent English teacher and by way of introducing herself, she wrote a letter to the students of the class.  I know, it doesn’t sound like anything “special” per se, but it wasn’t simply a Hi my name is…and this year we’ll be studying…and I’m grateful to be here kinda letter.  This was more down to earth, more personable, and really got their minds going.  In the spirit of Ms. Marks influence, today’s post will be in the form of two (short…no snickering!) letters.  *ahem*


Dear Minnie McClary,

You are a special young lady indeed.  Despite the obvious influence of surrounding students, teacher, and even parents, you manage to break out of your shell by believing in yourself, the truth and the lessons you gleaned from Ms. Marks teaching.  I don’t know you personally and yet after reading your story, I feel I do…so much so that the backbone you showed on behalf of those being ridiculed brought me to tears. 

Yes.  That’s right.  Once the moment depicted in the cover art arrived, there was no holding you back, consequences be darned; not that you had anything to fear.  With your family’s support, a true friend nearby, and a new understanding blossoming in your young mind, you showed people that way things are is not the way they HAVE to be.  Truth is worth fighting for no matter how big the obstacles may seem…or how small the person opposing them may be.  It only takes one voice to start a revolution...and I see many well worded battles won in your future.

Thank you for letting us into your world.



Dear Ms. Lindsay Marks,

You are a superstar among teachers.  Sure you shirked the dress code (though your witty t-shirts rocked!) and your style of teaching was a bit unorthodox but you managed to get a class of sixth graders THINKING, ASKING, and ENGAGING with the world around them.  They were no longer content to sit idle and be led like sheep through the required reading or test prep material (though those that do are not committing any crime).  No, they thirsted for knowledge that could only be gleaned by stepping off the charted syllabus and stepping into those gray areas where questions abound but truth also resides.  I love the fact that you tackled headier books than those assigned and the growth your students showed because of it.  Their minds were opened as were the doorways to them becoming life long friends with reading; something we sadly don’t see as often nowadays. 

Your story was not a fairytale though as you faced much opposition but you handled it with grace and presence of mind turning it from a front against you to an unexpected learning experience for all.  If you had any doubts of your influence, seek out Minnie McClary; though she’ll never tell you what she did or said on your behalf, the changes in her are there for all to see.  I admit I shed a tear for you as well when the package came with the pictures (sorry readers, I’m not telling why a package came or what else was in it or who it was for….you’ll have to read it) as even from afar you inspired this group of youngsters to once again apply pen in paper in joy rather than resentment…a task in and of itself.

Thank you for sharing your free spirit and powerful voice with us all.



So, that’s that; my thoughts on the two stars of the show. Don’t discount the side characters though as they are just as important and have things to share as well.  From Minnie’s parents to her Uncle Bill, her brother to her new best friend Amira and even those that choose to stand on the sidelines, there is much to be gleaned from this wonderful story and I will be singing its praises to all I know. To me, it falls right in line with the infamous To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (which I adore) but on a more kid-friendly level.  We learn that the world may not be the place we want it to be in terms of fairness, respect, acceptance and the like but that doesn’t mean that it’s a cause that’s lost it voice; that only happens if we let it. 

So what say you?  Take a stand in the name of “right” or stand by and let the world pass as it is for better or worse?  The power is in your hands…each and every one of you.  Recommended reading for middle grade readers and beyond.  There is not a soul out there that couldn’t benefit from this story.  The ability to find ones voice is a special gift and this is definitely one step in the right direction.

ARC for review courtesy of Ksenia at MacMillan Children’s Publishing Group.  (THANKS!)  For more information on this title as well as their full catalog, feel free to visit them online, like them on Facebook or follow along on Twitter.  To discover more about author Valerie Hobbs, be sure to stop by her official site.  This book celebrated its official release just this week from Farrar, Straus and Giroux / MacMillan Children's Publishing Group and should be readily available on a bookstore shelf near you.

Until next time….happy reading!


Vanessa said...

Awesome review! Love the letter format. This sounds like a book worth reading and sharing.

The1stdaughter said...

Love this review and I love how passionate you are about the book. It sounds fantastic! And perfect because I love middle grade novels so much. :o)

I'm terrible about when I write reviews...terrible. Sometimes it's right after, sometimes months later. Almost always it has something to do with how I feel about the book and oddly enough if I'm more excited about the book then it takes longer. No rhyme or reason. lol :oP

Gina said...

BookBorne: Thanks, V! It's certainly of those diamond in the rough books that is well worth the share.

The1stdaughter: Thanks Danielle! It was a wonderful read indeed. I KNOW you'd love it. ^_^ Totally gotcha on the "feeling" when reviewing...gotta be in the zone.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, GMR, for one of the most delightful book reviews I've ever had--and certainly the most entertaining to read. SO cool!

Gina said...

Val Hobbs: Thank YOU, Ms. Hobbs for writing such an inspiring story...and for stopping by! *big smile*

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