Just Like Jackie by Lindsey Stoddard

Published by HarperCollins

Summary:  Robinson wishes she could be more like her namesake Jackie Robinson, who could stay focused and get the job done even when people were cruel to him.  But Robbie has a short temper, and gets into trouble when she repeatedly fights with her nemesis, a boy named Alex.  To make matters worse, her beloved grandfather, her only family, is having memory problems.  He’s always refused to tell her about her parents, and she worries that he’ll forget and she’ll never learn about them.  When her class is assigned a family tree project, Robbie discovers she’s not the only one worried about loved ones.  She winds up with the guidance counselor, working with three other kids to address their family issues.  One of those kids is Alex, and Robbie begins to understand why he is such a bully.  Just as things at school begin to get better, Robbie has to face a crisis at home.  Slowly and at times reluctantly, she learns how to trust those around her to find solutions that will support both her and her grandfather moving into the future.  256 pages; grades 3-7.

Pros:  First-time novelist Lindsey Stoddard hits a home run with this touching story of a rough-around-the-edges but loveable protagonist.  Fans of Fish In a Tree will enjoy getting to know Robbie.

Cons:  It seemed like Robbie’s teacher could have been a bit more sensitive to the meltdowns engendered by her family tree project.

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