cover image Shine!


J.J. and Chris Grabenstein. Random House, $16.99 (224p) ISBN 978-1-5247-1766-7

In the married coauthors’ collaborative debut, seventh grader Piper believes that only some people are “meant to shine. Others are better off blending in.” Her mother, who died when Piper was three, was a talented cellist, and her father is a choir director, but Piper herself “can’t carry a tune in a lunch box.” After her dad gets a job at posh Chumley Prep—prompting a transfer for Piper, too, to the school where her mother once excelled—the girl becomes the target of class mean girl Ainsley. When an all-school award with deliberately vague criteria (“excel”) is announced, Piper is sure she has no shot. When she wins the science fair, though, thanks to her interest in astronomy, her friends think she is a front-runner. They work to find Piper something at which she can shine, but she becomes sure she won’t be chosen when outside occurrences (helping a lost kindergartner and a cafeteria worker in need) make her constantly late to class. Whatever the contest’s outcome, the girl’s realization that she has been shining all along is the true victory. This encouraging story of self-discovery celebrates friendship, kindness, and self-actualization, and readers will relate to the realistic middle school dynamic and well-developed characters. Ages 8–12. [em](Nov.) [/em]