Monday, January 21, 2013

MG Book Review: Small Medium at Large, by Joanne Levy

General Information
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Year of publication: 2012
# of chapters: 21 + epilogue
# of pages: 193
Genre: Paranormal

Plot summary (from website):
After she’s hit by lightning at a wedding, twelve-year-old Lilah Bloom develops a new talent: she can hear dead people. Among them, there’s her over-opinionated Bubby Dora; a prissy fashion designer; and an approval-seeking clown who livens up a séance. With Bubby Dora leading the way, these and other sweetly imperfect ghosts haunt Lilah through seventh grade, and help her face her one big fear: talking to—and possibly going to the seventh-grade dance with—her crush, Andrew Finkel.

Positive Points
The embarrassing situations the main character found herself in made me laugh out loud. The author captures the essence and voice of a middle grade child very well in this book. It reminded me of how I used to be when I was twelve. I love books that can make me laugh and nod in understanding.

I always enjoy books with a touch of spirituality, and this one definitely had that. The whole theme of the book was about communicating with spirits. It also had good moral values, without being "preachy," which is sometimes hard to achieve in a novel.

I really enjoyed the writing style in general. The author has excellent writing skills, so I could just sit back and just enjoy the story without getting aggravated or distracted by poor writing. How refreshing!

The characters were unique and well developed: the nerdy dad, the dead grandmother, the psychic twelve-year-old ... What is there not to like?

Negative Points
The only thing I didn't like (and it's more of a personal preference) is that I found the main character a bit "boy crazy" for a twelve-year-old. My mother instincts kicked in. Maybe I'm more conservative than most. This book is intended for children 9-12 years old, and at that age, I wasn't thinking about kissing boys. I always cringe when I see a kissing scene in a middle grade novel. Let kids be kids before they start worrying about boys and dating. But that's just me.

What makes this book unique
There are many paranormal YA books out there in the recent years, but we don't see that theme as much in middle grade novels. This was different than any other MG novels I've read so far: a seventh-grader who can talk to spirits. This is what made me want to read this book, and I wasn't disappointed.

Overall Impression
Whether you believe in ghosts or not, this book is a great read. Funny, entertaining, and original.

My Rating:

Thinking of purchasing this book? I'll make it easy for you:


Melanie Conklin said...

Hi, Annie! This book has been on TBR for some time now. It's interesting that you had some, er *feelings* about the boy stuff in the novel. I'm revising a MG contemporary novel right now, and have really been focusing on this element in other books I've read lately. For me, I think the key to conveying romance in MG is to show it correctly, through THEIR eyes. Most 12yo's aren't seasoned at romance. So, things happen. Kisses do happen. But they aren't pondered over and lusted for in the same way a teen would. They aren't fixated on. They happen in the NOW, as much of the MG experience does, and they often have much more to do with friendship than kissing. I really love how Rebecca Stead showed the development of a "relationship" in WHEN YOU REACH ME. Direct, frank, and honest, but completely innocent and new in a very sweet way.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Sounds like a good read. I've wanted to read this but haven't had time. Thanks for making me want to.

DMS said...

This sounds like a fun read. I love that it made you laugh out loud! Thanks for sharing. :)

Annie McMahon said...

Good point, Melanie. It was kind of cute and innocent in this book, which is good. And yes, I loved WHEN YOU REACH ME. One of my favorites!

Annie McMahon said...

Thanks for your comments, Natalie and Jess! It was a very fun read.

Marcia said...

If I'm being honest, I don't care for this subject matter and don't want to see it trickle down to MG. But I adore books that can nail a 6th grade voice.

Anonymous said...

I'm one of those who prefer their middle grade books kissing free too. I'm all for crushes but as soon as kissing is there I'm like "ugh" but it rarely ever hurt my reading experience.

Thanks for the feature. :)


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Anonymous said...

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