Authors: Lindsey Leavitt and Robin Mellom
Series: The Pages Between Us
Age group: 8 - 12
Pages: 336 pages
Summary from Amazon:
BFFs Olivia and Piper star in this fun snapshot of middle grade friendship told in a sweet journal-style book packed with engaging art. This is a follow-up to The Pages Between Us, by beloved middle grade authors Lindsey Leavitt and Robin Mellom.
It's time for the Battle of the Books!
When no one from their school signs up for the annual competition, BFFs Piper (The Drama Lover) and Olivia (The Bookworm) decide to put their talents to good use by creating a video to get their classmates excited about the contest.
Only things don't go exactly as planned.
The video goes viral, thrusting Olivia into a spotlight she never wanted, while no one seems to remember that Piper wrote, produced and directed the video. And on top of everything, while their video motivated a lot of people to sign up to participate in the Battle of the Books, no one seems to have any interest in doing the reading.
With the tournament approaching will Piper and Olivia be able to work together to save the day yet again?
The first thing I liked about this story was the growth of the characters. In book #1, they started out as unsure middle graders who had issues with their family. Most of the family issues got resolved in that book. In In the Spotlight, I got to watch as the characters overcame their fears. Every little step does something to promote their confidence. I loved reading as they overcame challenges in their life, such as grades, boys and socializing. I learned about different ways to elevate my confidence, such as imagining best possible outcome. There were also lots of great quotes regarding this challenges that will help me. Sometimes the characters beat themselves up about a mistake, or wanted to quit. I think it will teach readers perseverance and an understanding of what we can do for others.
Olivia and Piper depended on each other to help them get through challenges and to help them understand and reflect what was going on. Piper would write something to Olivia, about something super urgent or awful or confusing, Olivia would respond with her opinions and thoughts, and then she would write something that needed attention...
All of the characters in this book are relatable, fun and creative. They're inventive and obsessed with lots of things. I really liked how the writing engaged the reader and made me feel a part of the story (letter-writing). I think the format of some of the writing (for example, screenplay) was hard to understand and confusing. I think lots of readers will enjoy it.
The boy drama is like... wow. It's cute and appropriate for middle school. The girls gawk at every single answer a boy gives them and try to break it down. I liked watching Olivia grow and learn how to better communicate with them. I think it would teach a lot of girls who struggle with the same thing (page 314 would help with that). There was a lot of drama. The person we've all expected to be perfect seems really flat, and the person who seemed obsessive about Olivia turns out to be pretty selfless and friendly. So, yeah... It was sweet, cute and it helped the characters' personalities grow.
There were some parts that seemed a little sketchy and hastily pulled together. For example, the possibilities of two different boys calling a girl in one night? In middle school? I don't about everybody else, but that seemed a little... forward. And also unrealistic.
I also didn't like how the family issue was resolved. One of the characters was experiencing middle child syndrome, and they spend a lot of the book feeling excluded. Even though the authors tried to make it seem as if all was right, I felt put off because it seemed as if the family wanted to do the character's hobby for their own benefit.
I think that the possibilities of a video going viral on YouTube because it's meaningful and all that just doesn't seem credible. Every three minutes, two more people watched it! Amazing! But inside, I was kind of like, Really? And because of this, Olivia becomes popular. After Olivia becomes popular, she ends up talking to boys and achieving all the things she wanted to. It implied to me that you had to be popular in order to achieve your goals, which I don't think is the right message to send.
In the Spotlight was a fun book that teaches a lot of good lessons and engages the reader by having a lot of relatable situations. It gets a seven out of ten. It was something I think would be a great beginning of the school year read. Something to make you smile and to take your nerves off the edge.
Robin Mellom (left) is the author of THE CLASSROOM, a middle grade series from Disney-Hyperion. She is also the author THE PAGES BETWEEN US, a middle grade series told in letters, co-written with Lindsey Leavitt, as well as the forthcoming three-book picture book series, HANNAH SPARKLES, both from HarperCollins. Coming in 2017 from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, is a new middle grade novel titled CONFESSIONS FROM THE PRINCIPAL’S KID. Robin has taught grades five through eight and has a master’s degree in education. She lives with her husband and son on the Central Coast of California.
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For more MMGMs, go to the hostess Shannon Messenger's website. To read my review of The Pages Between Us, click on the button that has its title on it.
Have a wonderful week! Enjoy lots of books.