Twelve-year-old Kate Marino thinks she is a real mastermind. At least when it comes to hatching a plan to dissuade potential buyers from purchasing Big Red, the old farmhouse that has been the only home Kate has ever known, and which her parents must sell in order to downsize.
Kate has not even moved yet, and already her life is changing in unwelcome ways. Every moment and memory seems fleeting. Making dioramas of the people she loves in the places that she holds dear gives Kate a sense of calm. But there’s no way Kate is going to move now, when her dance troupe is finally going to compete at Dance Nation, and her best friend is starting to replace her with her enemy, Megan. It may take several bags of stink, the help of her friends, and a few fake dogs in order for her to be able to keep her life the way that she knows and loves it.
T.L. Bonaddio’s warm interior illustrations complement Altebrando’s evocative prose and practically make the farmhouse a character that you’ll find yourself wanting the best for. With sincerity and humor, author Tara Altebrando thoughtfully explores the pain—and promise—of letting go.
I was provided with a free copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Kate Marino loves her unusual home, with the high ceilings and the beams that run across them, even with the dead flies that they keep finding in her parents room. She loves her backyard and the stream that runs through it by the forest in the back. She also loves a square of blacktop that she calls the tennis court, where she and her friends play and ride their scooters. Oh, and don’t forget about her dance classes and the dance troupe that they are finally starting up at her studio.
Then her parents tell her that they are moving.
Kate isn’t happy about that. So she devises a plan that will turn all potential buyers away from the house. She decides that she will do everything in her power to make they house reek. and for a while, she succeeds.
This was an easy read, but it still had substance to it, even with all the fun elements.
For example, there was a bit of friendship trouble that Kate was having with her best friend Stella. For one thing, they were developing separate interests that were significantly different. For another, Kate was hurt when Stella didn’t seem to care that she was moving and going to be living an hour away.
At first I really didn’t like the rivalry between the two girls. But as the book went on, the characters became more developed, and the fight was realistic. It became something that a lot of young girls could relate to.
The dance troupe in the book was another cause for disharmony between the girls. Kate decided that she wanted to do the troupe, even through she was moving and shouldn’t be able to participate. Stella insisted that it was selfish of Kate to do that, because Kate would be moving and if she left then the entire class would have to re-choreograph the entire routine. During this part I could see things from both sides of the characters views. I agreed with Stella, who was being practical. However, I understood that Kate wanted to participate, and who thought she could hold off her move until after the competition.
In the beginning of the book, Kate and her parents don’t understand each other and she seems to feel like they are distant. On top of this, Kate’s mother is going through a difficult time and their family struggles terribly with their finances. I enjoyed seeing their relationship change throughout the story.
The last thing that I want to mention that I really like is the diorama element. The book is called ‘My Life in Dioramas’ for a reason. Throughout this entire story, Kate is putting all her happy memories of her family and life in her house, Big Red, into the form of dioramas. She makes her yard, and every room in the house, so that she could go back and look at them once she is gone and remember her old life. For the character, it was probably a very therapeutic exercise.
Kate’s attempts to keep the house from selling never failed to amuse me. From gathering animal dung to sneaking meat out of the fridge, Kate never failed to entertain the audience.
This book is meaningful and deals with real problems, but manages to accomplish both these things in such a way that it makes you feel pleased at the end and that ensures that you have fun reading the book.
It is appropriate for all ages and I would highly recommend it.
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