Perfect for fans of Raymie Nightingale and The Fourteenth Goldfish, this heartfelt middle-grade novel seamlessly melds STEAM content with first loss in an honest and striking debut.
When Mika starts fifth grade at the middle school, her neat life gets messy. Separated from old friends and starting new classes, Mika is far from her comfort zone. And math class is the most confusing of all, especially when her teacher Mr. Vann assigns math journals. Art in math? Who's ever heard of such a thing?
But when challenges arise at home, Mika realizes there are no easy answers. Maybe, with some help from friends, family, and one unique teacher, a math journal can help her work out problems, and not just the math ones.
Debut author Jennifer Swender delivers poignant prose and illustrator Jennifer Naalchigar brings Mika's journal to life in this perfect equation of honesty plus hope that adds up to a heartwarming coming-of-age story.
Debut author Swender cleverly tells the story of shy artist Mika Barnes by interspersing entries of an illustrated math journal throughout her first-person narrative. Mika lives with her mother in New York's Hudson Valley and rarely sees her father and his new wife, who live in Florida. Mika's first year as a fifth grader at Highbridge Middle School promises to be challenging: she's in a different pod than her best friend, and her math teacher, Mr. Vann, teaches in a wholly unconventional way using a math journal to "embark on reflective discussions of relevant math issues." When she finds out that her mom has melanoma, it's Mr. Vann and his journal prompts, along with two new unlikely friends at school, that help her cope. Mika's journal entries prove both amusing and touching as she expresses her uncertainty and fear through numbers and drawings, and Swender nicely captures the mind-set of a child struggling to understand a parent's illness. Though Mika seems more like a bystander watching things unfold than a protagonist evolving over time, the unusual format and the author's realistic portrayal of a girl navigating social and familial issues make this a worthy read. Ages 8 12. Author's