Genre: Midgrade/ childrens?
Synopsis: “Pay attention to the magic in the world,” the crow chirped. “You can create anything you like through magic. Your thoughts are powerful!” Sarah is a fifth grader and she has a gift. She can see spirits. When she meets Leila, a fourth grader with telekinetic abilities, she is ecstatic that she has found a friend like her. But when Leila uses her powers against the kids who taunt her in school, Sarah takes Leila under her wing and teaches her how to use them in a positive way. In the end, Leila “saves the day!” Activities at the end of the book help reinforce the story. Inspired by Dr. Steven Farmer’s Children’s Spirit Animal Cards.
My thoughts: I am not looking forward to having to give this book a rating on Amazon and Goodreads. Children's books are so hard to rate, in my opinion, because you have to take into account the intended audience. Their ability to understand, their attention span, their vocabulary level, the message of the story, the artwork (there was artwork in this book!) and just so much.
I had a really hard time classifying this book. I hate the label "Midgrade" because it sort of becomes a catch all. And technically, because of the age, this is an early Midgrade series. The main character is in 5th grade and it is the second book in the series. So yeah.
Unfortunately, when I and my kids think of mid-grade, we think of Magic Treehouse, Percy Jackson, A Wrinkle in Time, Harry Potter, and The Castleton Series. These are all big books. Which is why I slapped the Children's label on it, because it is much more simple, coming in at only 94 pages.
But it is more simplistic in it's writing style than Junie B. Jones, Goosebumps, and Jack Sparrow (these were the books my kids were reading in 1st and 2nd grade. Were they unusual? )
So despite all this quandary, I did enjoy the book. It is a nice story, with a good anti-bullying message, and a message about believing in yourself. With positive thinking, you can do anything. All great messages.
I could see some conservative parents having issues with the fact that there is an alter in Sarah's secret place in the book. I personally had a hard time with the extrapolation of the positive thinking, which is that Leila uses her kinetic energy to heal her mom.
I remember as a kid wanting to master the force and believing in magic. I don't think those things hurt me. But I do remember a few times when I was very sick/ badly hurt that I was a bit crushed that I couldn't master those skills to heal myself. I couldn't fathom how devastated I would be if it were a loved one who were sick and the guilt I would feel for not saving them. But then maybe I was just a weird kid. (Scratch that, I was totally a weird kid! But maybe this wouldn't be a normal thought process for most kids. IDK.)
If I knew a third or fourth grader who wasn't a big reader (IE short attention span, limited vocabulary, lots of pretty pictures) who was being bullied, would I recommend this book? Probably, yeah. Would I want to be sure to sit down and discuss this book with said reader when they were done?
Um, yeah. But then I still do that with my older boys, and I love to do it with my mother when we read the same books. That is kind of the joy of reading, right?!
If you would like to give the Sarah's Gift series a go, you can get the first book, Sarah's Gift:Standing Up for Yourself and the second book Sarah's Gift: Believing in the Magic for $2.99 each from Amazon.
Until next time,