The World Ends in April by Stacy McAnulty

Published by Random House Books for Young Readers

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Summary:  Eleanor gets annoyed when her Grandpa Joe insists on drilling her and her two younger brothers on survivalist techniques to prepare them for impending doom.  But when she runs across a website with a Harvard scientist claiming an asteroid is heading for Earth, she begins to have doomsday predictions of her own. Enlisting the help of her friend Mack, she forms the Nature Club, using the innocuous-sounding name as a cover to hide her real intentions of preparing her classmates for the end of the world as they know it.  Getting ready to survive Armageddon distracts Eleanor from the fact that visually-impaired Mack is seriously considering going to a school for the blind, and before long she finds herself enjoying meetings of her new club. But as the doomsday clock keeps ticking, fewer people believe her predictions, and Eleanor finds herself taking desperate measures to ensure her loved ones are ready.  Includes an author’s note; information about asteroids; and tips for how to build a survival kit. 368 pages; grades 4-7.

Pros:  What better group to prepare for a dramatic end to the world than a bunch of middle schoolers?  Stacy McAnulty creates a funny, endearing group of misfits who all have their own reasons for wanting the distraction of the world ending to keep them from their everyday worries.  The fast-paced plot and interesting discussion potential would make this a good book club choice.

Cons:  I didn’t warm up to Eleanor as much as I did to Lucy in McAnulty’s The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl, and I grew increasingly frustrated with her refusal to believe the mounting evidence that the scientist was a quack.

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