Title: Poppy Mayberry, The Monday
Author: Jennie K. Brown
Published by: Month9Books
Publication date: September 13, 2016
Genres: Middle Grade, Fantasy
My rating: 4/5
What if your teacher could read your mind just because she was born on a Thursday? Or the kid next to you in class could turn back the clock just because he was a ‘Wednesday”? In the quirky town of Nova, all of this is normal, but one thing is not—Poppy Mayberry. As an almost-eleven-year-old Monday, she should be able to pass notes in class or brush her dog, Pickle, without lifting a finger. But her Monday telekinesis still has some kinks, and that plate of spaghetti she’s passing may just end up on someone’s head. And if that’s not hard enough, practically perfect Ellie Preston is out to get her, and Principal Wible wants to send her to remedial summer school to work on her powers! It’s enough to make a girl want to disappear…if only she were a Friday.
This was an enjoyable middle grade read. In the town of Nova, those born on particular weekdays have a special power. As a Monday, Poppy has the power of telekinesis, only she hasn’t quite mastered control of it yet so things don’t always move in the way she intends. She ends up a the Power Academy for summer school with her nemesis and a couple of new friends. They need to work together to solve a mystery so they can go home early.
I really liked a lot about the story. There was not a lot of world building to explain the powers and where they came from, but we got some answers and some hints that there’s more to the story. World building is one of the things I love about sci-fi and fantasy books so I’m always disappointed when there isn’t more, but it really wasn’t necessary for the story. The whole powers thing was really cool, and the mystery associated with the Power Academy was definitely engaging. There’s clearly more going on there than we learn about and I think that leaves it open for the story to continue nicely as a series. As a book for middle graders I found that the writing had a good level of complexity and vocabulary. There were some “big words” or at least less common ones and the sentences weren’t all simple sentences. After reading a couple of YA books recently where I felt that they weren’t complex enough for their intended age group Poppy was a nice change. It will challenge some younger readers, but not so much that they can’t figure it out and keep going.
I did have a couple of issues with the book. The first is just a personal pet peeve. Poppy brings her dog along with her to the Power Academy. There are lots of mentions of her interacting with her dog, but none of her feeding it, walking it or taking it out to toilet. Dogs are a big responsibility and by not building that responsibility into the story it gives kids who don’t have pets an unrealistic view of what it’s like. Dog ownership is not all dressing your dog up in cute outfits and petting it. My other issue has to do with how the adults (and some kids) are perceived in the story. The kids have nicknamed their principal, Mr. Wible, Woble-Wible because he has an unsteady gait, Poppy refers to one of the Academy heads as “Nostril-Man”, and makes comments about Mrs. Larriby’s weight. While I understand the motive behind these and I get that kids do this (we all do to some extent!) I felt there could have been a better way of physically describing the characters without the mocking tone. Readers can be impacted by what they read and how they see favorite characters react. I appreciate the need for real and flawed characters but I also think it’s important to be careful about what messages are being sent with respect to judging people based on physical appearance.
Overall, it was a good read and I’m looking forward to the sequel and seeing more of the mysterious town of Nova. And while you’re waiting for the sequel you can head over to the author’s website and discover your week day power!
**The publisher provided a free copy of the book in return for an honest review**