Family is family, no matter what it looks like. Readers will cheer for this pitch-perfect story, just right for fans of such books as The Great Gilly Hopkins and Fish in a Tree. This middle grade novel is an excellent choice for tween readers in grades 5 to 6, especially during homeschooling. It’s a fun way to keep your child entertained and engaged while not in the classroom.
For as long as Robinson Hart can remember, it’s just been her and Grandpa. He taught her about cars, baseball, and everything else worth knowing. But Grandpa’s memory has been getting bad—so bad that he sometimes can’t even remember Robbie’s name.
She’s sure that she’s making things worse by getting in trouble at school, but she can’t resist using her fists when bullies like Alex Carter make fun of her for not having a mom.
Now she’s stuck in group guidance—and to make things even worse, Alex Carter is there too. There’s no way Robbie’s going to open up about her life to some therapy group, especially not with Alex in the room. Besides, if she told anyone how forgetful Grandpa’s been getting lately, they’d take her away from him. He’s the only family she has—and it’s up to her to keep them together, no matter what.
Praise for Just Like Jackie:
"I was truly moved by this refreshing story about a scrappy young heroine and her struggle to protect her family."—Sara Pennypacker, New York Times bestselling author of Pax
“Just Like Jackie is a lovely story of acceptance—about what makes a family and how we make our own families, and about embracing our differences.”—Ann M. Martin, New York Times bestselling author of Rain Reign
"A fresh coming-of-age novel as feisty, funny, and forthright as its protagonist. Robinson overcomes obstacles with wit, grit, and a growing compassion for others, showing us that families are what we make them and happiness is found in the simple gifts we take for granted. A rich, rewarding read all around."—John David Anderson, author of Ms. Bixby's Last Day
“As close to perfect as a book for middle grade children can get!”—Cammie McGovern, author of Just My Luck
? "Stoddard debuts with a quiet but powerful narrative that gently unpacks Alzheimer’s, centers mental health, and moves through the intimate and intense emotional landscape of family—what seems to break one and what can remake it. Validating, heart-rending, and a deft blend of suffering and inspiration."—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“A home-run story that will resonate with all who feel they might not fit into the perfect definition of a family.”—School Library Journal
“Debut author Stoddard crafts a winning narrator in Robinson. A beautiful story about the true meaning of family, perfect for fans of Lynda Mullaly Hunt.”—Booklist
Stoddard's gently powerful debut introduces a tough-as-nails fifth-grader coping with her grandfather's worsening Alzheimer's disease. Eleven-year-old Robinson "Robbie" Hart tries to emulate her cheek-turning namesake, Jackie Robinson, but her anger often explodes at school, threatening to expose her guardian grandfather's failing memory. A family tree project brings Robbie's anxiety to the forefront she doesn't even know her deceased mother's name. Stoddard movingly contrasts Robbie's anger (such as when she's questioned about why she's white and her grandfather is black) with the places she feels safe, including her grandfather's garage, the baseball field, and the Vermont woods where she helps make maple syrup. The stakes increase as her grandfather's memory lapses turn dangerous, resulting in an accident while boiling sap. An in-school therapy group helps Robbie recognize that some of her classmates are also struggling with the family tree project, as well as divorce, illness, and other problems. This emotionally honest, sensitively written novel confronts a range of difficult topics and offers an inclusive view of what family can look like. Ages 8 12.