book review, Children's Writing, County by 7s, Giveaway, Holly Goldberg Sloan, Writing

Counting by 7s — Review and Giveaway

Thought for the Day:
“What we expect rarely occurs; what we don’t expect is what happens.”
~ Holly Goldberg Sloan ~

Gifts for My Writer Friends:
Tired of your characters all sounding alike. Kathy Temean at Writing and Illustrating has a good post HERE on giving your characters unique voices.

Angela Ackerman did a great gust post HERE on 5 mistakes writers make with setting. As always, Angela has something worth your while. 

Helen Pyne has a fine post HERE on Through the Tollbooth about getting to the end of your novel. This will help most writers. 

No giveaway last week as I was busy supporting my local library, but this week I have knocked another book off my TBR pile and have a giveaway for you. Maybe I am the last person on the planet to get around to reading the very popular Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan. After all, it has been out for almost two years, but I suspect there are a few others who still have this on their I’ll-Get-to-It-Soon list. Maybe this will spur you on to get to it.

Willow Chance is 12 years old and is different from most kids her age in several ways. She is obsessed with a few things — medical problems (she likes to diagnose people’s problems), everything about nature, and she counts by 7s. I don’t exaggerate when I say obsessed. If someone were to diagnose Willow, it would surely be a diagnosis of OCD. Willow is also adopted and her parents are older than the parents of most other kids with whom she goes to school. Not that she spends much time with those kids. She is really a loner and doesn’t have friends. And she is smarter than all the other kids — probably than most of her teachers! When she is given a state-mandated test, she finishes it in no time and gets a perfect score. The teacher and principal can only come to one conclusion — she cheated. She is sent for counseling. This is truly life-changing for Willow. Not because her counselor is so good at his job. Anything but. 

Counselor Dell Duke doesn’t love his job, but he tolerates it and truly tries to do no harm. But counseling doesn’t seem to be a big part of it. The good he does, for the most part, is pretty accidental. But Willow finds a couple other kids, a brother and sister named Quang-ha and Mai, on her forays to Dell Duke’s office and decides she wants to be friends with the sister. Naturally, Willow teaches herself Vietnamese to be able to make that friend. It is on one visit to Duke that he ends up taking them all home and, when they arrive at Willow’s home, they discover Willow’s parents have both been killed in a terrible accident. Thus begins a journey that draws all these people (and a couple more) into a fascinating alliance and changes every one of them in wonderful ways. The writing, characters, and story are all amazing. I need to find out what else Holly Goldberg Sloan has written and add her other books to my TBR list.

Holly Goldberg Sloan

There are a lot of dead-parent stories, it seems, in middle-grade literature. Sometimes it seems a bit much, but I understand the reason for it. If a writer thinks about what worries kids this age, this is probably the very thing that worries them most. For Willow, this is the most devastating since she has no other relatives she knows of. That almost certainly means foster care — something kids this age worry about too — but this is a story that is filled with hope and personal growth and is anything but a dead-parent downer. I loved this book and found it so uplifting. If you haven’t read it yet, I hope you will. To that end, I will pass along my copy to one of you.

I have a gently-read paperback for one of you. To win, all you need do is have a US address, be a subscriber or follower, and tell me that in a comment you leave on this post. If you are reading this in your email, click HERE to go to the blog so you can leave a comment. If you would like extra chances, please spread the word by posting the link on a Tweet, blog post, Facebook, or any other way you like. Let me know what you have done in your comment, and I will put in extra chances for you for each that you do.

Don’t forget to check out Shannon Messenger’s wonderful blog HERE for many more Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday reviews and giveaways.

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