Saturday, December 21, 2013

Kid Konnection: Counting by 7s

Every Saturday, I host a feature called Kid Konnection -- a regular weekend feature about anything related to children's books. This week, I'm going to share with you a middle grade book that's guaranteed to touch your heart.

Summary: In the tradition of Out of My Mind, Wonder, and Mockingbird, this is an intensely moving middle grade novel about being an outsider, coping with loss, and discovering the true meaning of family.

Willow Chance is a twelve-year-old genius, obsessed with nature and diagnosing medical conditions, who finds it comforting to count by 7s. It has never been easy for her to connect with anyone other than her adoptive parents, but that hasn’t kept her from leading a quietly happy life . . . until now.

Suddenly Willow’s world is tragically changed when her parents both die in a car crash, leaving her alone in a baffling world. The triumph of this book is that it is not a tragedy. This extraordinarily odd, but extraordinarily endearing, girl manages to push through her grief. Her journey to find a fascinatingly diverse and fully believable surrogate family is a joy and a revelation to read. -- Dial

Even though I'm way past the target age for middle grade fiction, I still love a good middle grade book. And that's precisely what COUNTING BY 7S by Holly Goldberg Sloan is -- a fantastic book. This novel introduces some pretty special characters and also has some wonderful messages. It's no wonder that it was a Buzz Book at this year's BEA and that it has received so many honors.

COUNTING BY 7S tells the story of Willow a twelve year old girl who is extraordinarily intelligent... but also a bit different from the other kids. She is obsessed with plants and medical conditions and she likes to count by 7s to calm herself down. She has few friends and doesn't really fit in with others, but her adoptive parents have always demonstrated how much they love her.

And then one day, tragedy strikes when Willow's parents are killed in an automobile accident. She is all alone with no family and friends, and yet she finds a way to survive and even prosper. With the help of a new "family," Willow discovers that she can belong with the right set of people!

I adored COUNTING BY 7S and it truly encompasses what I love about middle grade fiction. It had memorable characters, especially Willow, but it also touched upon so many relevant issues for today's kids. This novel explored what it's like to be different and long for a sense of belonging, and while most kids won't have to deal with the extremes that Willow faced, I do think they will relate to this character.

In addition, this book dealt with the different ways to handle loss. Honestly, I was blown away by how well the author explored the topic of grief. Of course, Willow faced the nightmare of losing her parents and really her entire support system; and she was naturally devastated. However, Ms. Sloan managed to make Willow's grief so real. My heart broke for Willow over and over again.

And finally, I loved the uplifting messages in COUNTING BY 7S. Through a very quirky cast of characters, the author demonstrated that acceptance and family can come in the least likely places. Willow also learned that no matter how much tragedy she faced, she had what it took to persevere and even find joy again!

Overall, COUNTING BY 7S is a wonderful book. It will make you laugh and cry, but most of all, it will make you fall in love with this resilient young girl! Highly recommended.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this book.

If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, please leave a comment as well as a link below with your name/blog name and the title of the book! Feel free to grab the little button too!


Beth F said...

I love middle grade fiction and this one is new to me.

Laura at Library of Clean Reads said...

I remember reading good reviews about this one. I must add it to my list of good middle-grade books. I think my kids would like this story because it's different. Thanks for your review!

bermudaonion said...

Wow! This sounds fabulous. Handling grief can be so difficult, especially for kids. I'm glad there are books like this out there.

Stacy at The Novel Life said...

this one sounds so sweet and one I definitely need to put in the girls group home i work at!