Published by Greenwillow Books
Summary: Bird, Fitch, and Cash are siblings in the seventh grade (Bird and Fitch are twins, and Cash was held back a year), but their orbits rarely intersect. Bird is a good student, passionate about space exploration, who longs for her family to be closer. Fitch loves hanging out at the arcade playing video games, but struggles with his anger. Cash is feeling like he’s not good at anything after failing seventh grade the first time and getting cut from the basketball team. The story is told over the course of the weeks leading up to the Challenger launch in January, 1986. Each sibling’s story is told in alternating chapters, showing their perspective about this event and the other happenings in school and at home. The Challenger explosion shakes all their worlds, especially Bird’s. She starts to doubt herself and to give up on bringing the family together, and the boys finally begin to notice her contributions to their home. There’s not a definitively happy ending, but the three siblings discover a newfound appreciation for each other and a commitment to provide support for one another. Includes an author’s note and additional resources on the Challenger. 400 pages; grades 4-7.
Pros: Erin Entrada Kelly may add to her Newbery collection with this beautifully written book about three kids trying to figure out their lives against the backdrop of the Challenger disaster. Their family, which appears okay from the outside, is pretty dysfunctional with selfish parents who fight constantly and don’t seem to be too concerned with the fairly serious problems their kids are dealing with. The short chapters and three different perspectives keep things rolling along and will draw reluctant readers in quickly.
Cons: It was painful to read pretty much any interaction between the two parents.