Fourth Grade Journey

A Fourth Grade Teacher's Journey Through the World of Books

Sunday, August 16, 2020

My Life in the Fish Tank by Barbara Dee

How I Heard About It:
*This upcoming middle-grade novel came to me via my Twitter #bookexpedition reading group.  I waited a long time for my turn and was extremely excited and happy when the ARC arrived in the mail.  I couldn't wait to get started reading.

What It Is About - FIVE Things You Need to Know:
1.  *Zinnia, Zinny, is our main character, and one of four children in the Manning family.  

2.  *Life for them had been pretty typical, until the oldest brother Gabriel attends college and suffers from a mental illness.

3.  *After he is diagnosed with Bi-Polar Disorder, the family dynamics are thrown into a tailspin and each member of the family handles the situation in their own personal way.  

4.  *Zinny has a difficult time adjusting to her "new" life both at home and at school.  

5.  *She has to navigate new interactions with her siblings, parents, and even some kids at school who she considered her true friends.  

What I Thought Of It - Five Observations/Reflections:
1.  *I have read many of Barbara Dee's books and loved them all.  This new title measured up and will stand as one of her best.  

2.  *I've never read a middle-grade story dealing with mental illness with a family member.  The author did a tremendous job of telling an important story that middle-grade readers will be able to understand and sympathize with.  

3.  *The character of Zinny was the glue that held not only the story together, but her family together.  She was so enjoyable to follow along with as she journeyed through a difficult time.  

4.  *Not only did I enjoy the scenes from home, but the school scenes with the lunch bunch and the science class added greatly to the overall story.  

5.  *The importance of mental illness is a story that needs to be told and told at the middle-grade level.  This will be an important book for elementary classrooms and libraries.  

Who Should Read It:
*I would recommend the story for readers in grades five and six, along with the middle-school student.  Some mature fourth grade readers would also be great for the book.  I could see the story being used a class read aloud and/or book club selection as the plot would lead to deep and meaningful discussions.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  4 STARS out of 5 Stars

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