Book Review: Sir Fig Newton and the Science of Persistence by Sonja Thomas – A Heartfelt Summer Read about STEM-Girl Power, Cats, and Having Faith in Yourself

sir fig newton and the science of persistence by sonja thomas. reviewed by cw, the quiet pond
Blurb:

From the Desk of Zoe Washington meets Ways to Make Sunshine in this heartfelt middle grade novel about a determined young girl who must rely on her ingenuity and scientific know-how to save her beloved cat.

Twelve-year-old Mira’s summer is looking pretty bleak. Her best friend Thomas just moved a billion and one miles away from Florida to Washington, DC. Her dad is job searching and he’s been super down lately. Her phone screen cracked after a home science experiment gone wrong. And of all people who could have moved into Thomas’s old house down the street, Mira gets stuck with Tamika Smith, her know-it-all nemesis who’s kept Mira in second place at the school science fair four years running.

Mira’s beloved cat, Sir Fig Newton, has been the most stable thing in her life lately, but now he seems off, too. With her phone gone and no internet over the weekend at her strict Gran’s house, Mira must research Fig’s symptoms the old-fashioned way: at the library. She determines that he has “the silent cat killer” diabetes. A visit to the vet confirms her diagnosis, but that one appointment stretched family funds to the limit—they’ll never be able to afford cat insulin shots.

When Mira’s parents tell her they may have to give Fig up to people who can afford his treatment, Mira insists she can earn the $2,000 needed within a month. Armed with ingenuity, determination, and one surprising ally, can Mira save her best (four-legged) friend before it’s too late?

I received a digital advanced readers copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Young readers who love science and cats will adore Sonja Thomas’s middle-grade novel, Sir Fig Newton and the Science of Persistence. This heartfelt story follows Mira, a young science-loving Black biracial girl and aspiring astronomer, and her rollercoaster summer of changing friendships, her beloved cat’s “silent cat killer” diagnosis, and the implications this has on her family.

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Book Review: One for All by Lillie Lainoff – Mystery, Musketeers, and Sisterhood Coalesce in this Affirming Gender-Bent The Three Musketeers Retelling

Blurb:

Tania de Batz is most herself with a sword in her hand. Everyone in town thinks her near-constant dizziness makes her weak, nothing but “a sick girl”; even her mother is desperate to marry her off for security. But Tania wants to be strong, independent, a fencer like her father—a former Musketeer and her greatest champion.

Then Papa is brutally, mysteriously murdered. His dying wish? For Tania to attend finishing school. But L’Académie des Mariées, Tania realizes, is no finishing school. It’s a secret training ground for a new kind of Musketeer: women who are socialites on the surface, but strap daggers under their skirts, seduce men into giving up dangerous secrets, and protect France from downfall. And they don’t shy away from a swordfight.

With her newfound sisters at her side, Tania feels for the first time like she has a purpose, like she belongs. But then she meets Étienne, her first target in uncovering a potential assassination plot. He’s kind, charming, and breathlessly attractive—and he might have information about what really happened to her father. Torn between duty and dizzying emotion, Tania will have to lean on her friends, listen to her own body, and decide where her loyalties lie…or risk losing everything she’s ever wanted.

I received a digital advanced readers copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

In this remarkable historical retelling of The Three Musketeers, Lillie Lainoff’s debut One for All promises mystery, action, stabby girls, and a phenomenal story with a disabled protagonist who proves that strength comes in many forms. Set in 1650’s France, One for All follows Tania de Batz, a chronically ill girl and daughter of a former Musketeer. When her father is mysteriously and brutally murdered, Tania is whisked off to Paris at his bequest – but what everyone believes to be a finishing school is actually a secret training ground for girl Musketeers.

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Book Review: Squire by Sara Alfageeh and Nadia Shammas – A Brilliant Interrogation of Heroism, Imperialism and Power, Set in an Alternate History Middle-East

Squire by Sara Alfageeh and Nadia Shammas.
Blurb:

Aiza has always dreamt of becoming a Knight. It’s the highest military honor in the once-great Bayt-Sajji Empire, and as a member of the subjugated Ornu people, Knighthood is her only path to full citizenship. Ravaged by famine and mounting tensions, Bayt-Sajji finds itself on the brink of war once again, so Aiza can finally enlist in the competitive Squire training program.

It’s not how she imagined it, though. Aiza must navigate new friendships, rivalries, and rigorous training under the unyielding General Hende, all while hiding her Ornu background. As the pressure mounts, Aiza realizes that the “greater good” that Bayt-Sajji’s military promises might not include her, and that the recruits might be in greater danger than she ever imagined.

Aiza will have to choose, once and for all: loyalty to her heart and heritage, or loyalty to the Empire. 

I received a digital advanced readers copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I read Squire thinking it would be a story about knighthood and heroism. In a way, Squire is about those two things, but it was also, unexpectedly yet to my delight, so much more. Set in alternate history Middle East, Squire follows Aiza, a young girl of the fictional Ornu people who dreams of becoming a Knight for the Bayt-Sajji Empire – not only for the glory of it, but also because it will offer a path to full citizenship. Hiding her Ornu background, Aiza enlists to become a Squire, but discovers that the ‘greater good’ promised by military is not at all what she initially believed.

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Book Review: Wingbearer by Marjorie M. Liu and illustrated by Teny Issakhanian – A Faultlessly Fun and Magical Middle-Grade Graphic Novel

Blurb:

Zuli is extraordinary–she just doesn’t realize it yet. Raised by mystical bird spirits in the branches of the Great Tree, she’s never ventured beyond this safe haven. She’s never had to. Until now.

When a sinister force threatens the life-giving magic of the tree, Zuli, along with her guardian owl, Frowly, must get to the root of it. So begins an adventure bigger than anything Zuli could’ve ever imagined–one that will bring her, along with some newfound friends, face-to-face with an ancient dragon, the so-called Witch-Queen, and most surprisingly of all: her true identity.

This captivating middle grade graphic novel, the first of a series, is perfect for fans of the Amulet books and the Wings of Fire series.

I received a digital advanced readers copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Looking to be swept away to a magical world with goblins, dragons, griffins, and magnificent fantastical beings? Wingbearer by Marjorie M. Liu and illustrated by Teny Issakhanian is a promise of a dazzling fantasy adventure with a compelling quest and mystery that will keep you turning the page. The story follows young Zuli, a young dark-skinned girl raised by avian guardian spirits in the Great Tree where the souls of birds go to rest before their journey into their next lives. When a mysterious force threatens the Great Tree, Zuli, along her guardian owl Frowly, leaves and sets off an adventure where she will make unexpected friends, meet powerful magical beings, and confront her true identity.

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Five Reasons to Read: This Woven Kingdom by Tahereh Mafi – A Fairytale-Like Persian Fantasy with Jinn, Casteism, and a Forbidden Romance

Blurb:

To all the world, Alizeh is a disposable servant, not the long-lost heir to an ancient Jinn kingdom forced to hide in plain sight.

The crown prince, Kamran, has heard the prophecies foretelling the death of his king. But he could never have imagined that the servant girl with the strange eyes, the girl he can’t put out of his mind, would one day soon uproot his kingdom—and the world.

Cuddle's review:
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