A few weeks ago I was the lucky winner on Deb Marshall’s blog. The prize? SEEING CINDERELLA by Jenny Lundquist. Deb’s review got me excited about the book, and I’m so pleased to feature it as this week’s MMGM. Several of you noticed Deb and I featured the same book last week. Since she’s already covered this one, I know we’ll have different books this week :).
Here’s the description from the inside cover:
Calliope Meadow Anderson (“Callie”) wishes her life could be more of a fairy tale–just like the stories she writes. Her best friend, Ellen, is acting weird, her parents’ marriage is falling apart, and to top things off, she’s found out she needs glasses–hideously large and geeky glasses.
But Callie soon learns they aren’t just any glasses–they are magical and let her read people’s thoughts. She has the rare chance to see what actually goes through people’s minds all day, including what Ellen–and her long-time crush–really think of her.
Add in a new girl who definitely has something to hide, a best friend stealer who isn’t what she seems, a secret admirer, and the chance to be in the spotlight, and Callie’s year just went from ordinary to extraordinary.
I really loved this book, so it was tough to narrow down the five things I loved most, but here they are:
1. The concept – While the idea of being able to read other people’s thoughts has been done before, this book takes a different approach, making it visual. I love the way the glasses show Callie computer screens next to people’s heads. Through this twist, Callie sees not only the words people think, but also pictures and memories. And in the case of Callie’s new friend Ana, whose first language is Spanish, the glasses don’t work because Ana thinks in Spanish.
2. The rules – I’m a big fan of chapter titles if they add something to the story. In this book, each chapter starts with a rule, and it’s fitting because Callie keeps a journal with her to write stories and thoughts. In addition, we get a clue about will happen without giving anything away. Here are a couple of examples:
“Super Freaky Glasses Rule #3
Most people tell little white lies. Don’t get offended. You do the same thing.”
“Super Freaky Glasses Rule #9
It’s easier to dislike someone when you don’t have to read their thoughts.”
3. The voice – I love the way Callie thinks. The metaphors she uses to describe the world around her are such a window into her personality. In describing middle school she says:
“Pacificview Middle School reminded me of a science experiment gone wrong. A maze of gray metal lockers snaked in all directions, making me feel like a lost lab rat. Six hundred other rats also crowded the halls, some looking as nervous as I felt.”
Or when she enters drama class for the first time:
“Rows of folding chairs faced a darkened stage, where a thin red carpet ran from front to back. It reminded me of a large, toothless mouth, ready to swallow me if I set one foot on that monster.”
She’s entered a new world that seems bigger than her, and she doesn’t see how she fits in yet. Well done.
4. Vision correction – The book is all about Callie learning to see what’s really going on in the world around her. Her vision of herself, her parents, and her friends is blurred. She only sees the surface and doesn’t try to look deeper until the glasses force her to do so. Even with the glasses, she misses things the reader notices, like the girl who is trying to “steal” her best friend. The signs that there’s something more going on are there in the girl’s thoughts and memories, but Callie’s perception is jumbled by her jealousy. She won’t achieve the “vision correction” Dr. Ingram prescribed until she can get past her own insecurities and emotions. As he says,
“Sometimes vision correction takes time. Fear not, Calliope Meadow Anderson. I am sure the glasses will reveal their purpose in due course. For it’s not that I have ‘some grand plan,’ as you say, for these glasses. But perhaps these glasses have some grand plan for you.”
5. Real-life issues – Despite the magical premise, the story delves into real-life issues in a realistic way. Friendships that change as you get older. Parents who aren’t all good or all bad, just normal, flawed people. I like the way Jenny Lundquist handled the situation with Callie’s parents. We feel Callie’s hopes and disappointments, but we also see the truth in her parents’ thoughts. It’s part of her vision correction and also a lesson that the endings aren’t always happy. They’re what you make of them.
Go read this book! I’d put it in the top five middle grade books I’ve read this year.
Jenny Lundquist is represented by Kerry Sparks of Levine Greenberg Literary Agency.