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Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Book Review: What Stars Are Made of by Sarah Allen

Libby has Turner Syndrome. It causes a lot of problems like different learning abilities and an enlarged heart, but Libby lives with it just fine--after all, she was born this way and doesn't know any other way to be. It sometimes causes issues at school when she doesn't make friends easily and blurts out things in class that don't go over well. But she's excited when there's a school assignment to pick a person from history who you think should be included in textbooks who isn't. She knows exactly who to do: Dr. Cecilia Payne, who first discovered what stars are made of, although a man was later named as the discoverer of that. Also, a new girl at school seems friendly. And the best thing of all--her beloved older sister Nonny has come home to stay for a while. She's pregnant and her husband has gone away for work. There's a nationwide contest sponsored by the Smithsonian behind the school assignment, and Libby is determined to win, so she can give the money to Nonny, for her baby. After all, there's a worry that Nonny's baby could also have Turner Syndrome.

This is a very sweet story about a well-meaning, whip-smart, and truly kind girl who has some issues, but always tries her hardest (and then some). I was thrilled when she made a friend (a half-Samoan girl who likes poetry and rap) and the relationship with her sister was very loving and Nonny's advice was great. The lengths Libby went to for the contest were impressive and yet believable. I think any middle-school girl will adore this book.

This review is a part of Kid Konnection, hosted by Booking Mama, a collection of children's book-related posts over the weekend.

This book is published by Farrar Straus and Giroux BYR, a division of Macmillan, my employer.

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