What It Is About: Calliope June is a "forget me not" character. After the loss of her father, it is just Calliope, Calli, and her mother. Her mother is dealing with life by going through a string of different boyfriends. When each relationship doesn't work, they move and Calli must start over. It is hard enough to start over in a "typical" situation. Unfortunately, Calli has Tourette's Syndrome which makes it even more difficult when entering a new school. During the most recent move, she works hard to hide her TS and fit in. She meets Jinsong, a neighbor boy, who is also the class president. Jinsong is drawn to Calli right away, but battles with what the other kids in school will think. When Calli's TS gets in the way and the students begin to "tease" her, Jinsong decides to distance himself from her. He realizes this doesn't feel "right" and makes amends to make changes in his life. It may be too late because Calli's mother has met a new man and he make take them away to begin a life in a new town.
What I Thought Of It: Calli's point of view was told in verse while Jinsong's point of view was told in prose. The alternating view points worked so well and drew me into the pages of the book. As a reader, I could really feel what Calli was going through starting her new school and trying to fit in with the "crowd". It was also interesting to get to know Jinsong through his words. It was wonderful to read about a young person trying to do the right thing, but finding it isn't always easy to do so. The writing was so incredible and beautiful. There were many passages and pages that I reread because I just wanted to "soak" in the words that were on the page. I can't wait to share with novel with my fourth grade class.
Who Should Read It: The format of the book, verse and prose, makes this an accessible story to many readers. I think it would be perfect for the fourth, fifth, and/or sixth grade reader. Of course middle-school readers would also gain so much from experiencing the story of Calli and Jinsong. I'm thinking of adding this title to my "Mock Newbery" list for the 2017/2018. This is a must have for the elementary classroom library. Happy Reading!
Rating: 5 STARS out of 5 Stars