Middle grade children are capable of so much more than it might initially seem, and that is a truth that is finding its way more and more into the literature written for this age group. Sir Fig Newton and the Science of Persistence introduces readers to a girl named Mira who has big dreams of one day becoming a great scientist and astronaut. As she is building her skills in science, however, she is simultaneously learning to manage many of the very real and challenging emotions inherent to adolescence. Compellingly written and filled with strong storytelling and memorable characters, this novel is an excellent addition to libraries for middle grade readers. Please see my full review below!
For Mira Williams, the summer after sixth grade is nothing like what she expected. Her best friend Thomas has moved to Washington, DC—hundreds of miles from her Florida home—her parents are behaving differently since her dad lost his job, and one small disaster after another leaves Mira feeling lower than she ever has before. But Mira is a scientist, and she does not give up; she turns to her trusted science to collect facts and test hypotheses while doing her best to make everything better. When Mira visits her grandmother one weekend, however, she is introduced to another way of seeing the world, and as things continue to crumble around her, Mira finds herself seeking an unexpected balance between facts and faith.
This fast-paced, contemporary middle grade novel is especially well suited to young girls with a passion for science. Much of the story focuses on the facts that Mira uncovers as challenges arise in her life, and interesting tidbits of information are also woven into the text. These additions ground readers in science and knowledge while encouraging a logical approach to problem-solving. Alongside this is an examination of the myriad emotions taking place in Mira’s body and mind. From disagreements with her parents to the loneliness of having her best friend move far away, Mira is struggling to regain her footing as her familiar world changes around her. Middle grade readers are sure to recognize these feelings and will empathize with Mira as she works through each of them herself.
Middle grade readers who enjoy stories about persistent characters who persevere through challenges will connect with Mira from the first pages of this book. Mira often references Albert Einstein and Mae Jamison throughout the novel, bringing readers’ attention to two of the most influential scientists of the twentieth century. While there is always room for more, Mira appreciates the contributions of these minds and they serve as inspirations for Mira’s own intellectual pursuits. The blend between tangible facts and less concrete emotions found within this book makes for a thought-provoking approach that will resonate with readers of all ages. This is a heartfelt and inspiring addition to library collections for middle grade readers.
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