Book Review: Stargazing by Jen Wang

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“Moon is everything Christine isn’t.” The back cover describes this new middle grade graphic novel to a tee. When you’re young, you naturally compare yourself to the people around you, and that’s exactly what happens in this book. Christine is reluctant to meet Moon, the new girl across the street. Their parents get along and want the kids to be friends, but Moon is sort of…different…okay, weird. At school, Moon is known as “the girl who fights” – a rumor started after people ask where she came from, what is she doing here?

Soon enough, though, Christine becomes friends with Moon. As neighbors, they start with the convenience of being the same age and sharing Chinese food and culture. Moon’s interesting and fun; she loves dancing to K-Pop music and is a talented artist. The girls spend lots of time together and Christine feels like a new person around Moon – not the stuffy “do-your-homework-and-get-all-As” student of the past. But hanging around with Moon also leads to other observations, starting with stargazing. Moon says she belongs among the stars, and sees celestial beings telling her that she isn’t from Earth. (Well, that’s…interesting.)

Christine also notices that Moon sometimes “spaces out,” and this leads to events at school and at a birthday party that may be dangerous for the friendship, and for Moon’s well-being. When Moon gets into another fight, her world changes drastically. Now the fun-loving, dancing, happy Moon is not. Can Christine be the friend that Moon needs, or will the friendship end in disaster?

Why I Loved This Book: I loved Stargazing because this story is parallel to any young person’s life in school and with friends. Feeling (and being) weird, insecure, and out of this world are issues everyone faces at one point or another, and Christine and Moon’s stories are not unlike our own.

Why You Should Read Stargazing: This is an important book about friendships, families, and life issues. It’s also an easy-to-share graphic novel that friends and families can read together. Christine and Moon will help you to understand life better and hope for more dancing days to come.

My rating: ****

Recommended for ages 8 and up. Published by First Second, 2019.

Slice of Life Tuesday: On NOT Attending the NCTE14 Conference

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No, I wasn’t able to attend the NCTE Conference. Woe is me. (Aw, quit feeling sorry for me — I’m fine!) I am a life-long learner who loves to travel to educational conferences. “Weirdo.”  I know. But that’s what I like to do. Back in May, I asked my principal if I could attend two conferences this year. One event I really wanted to attend was the NCTE 14 Conference at the beautiful Gaylord Resort in National Harbor. I’ve never been to Washington, D.C. before. I was ready to see some new sights and take part in the best PD opportunity of the fall! She said, “You could do that one.” But when it came down to filling out the paperwork, life happened. Time, money, family obligations, just happened at the wrong time this year. (Don’t get me started on the year — 2014 will NOT be missed!)

I logged on to Facebook and Twitter and signed up for the mobile app for NCTE14, hoping that attending virtually would help me to get over the mental pain of staying home. I have to say, it was nice to stay home in my warm pajamas on Wednesday, getting up at my regular weekday time instead of 4:00 a.m. to catch a plane to D.C. It was cold and windy! However, the relief soon turned to anxiety as I heard friend after friend, author after author, role model after role model, land at the airport and start preparing for their presentations and dinners and fun! Oh, to miss out was torture!

I was home, though, attending to work and family. I did get to go out to dinner, see my nephew for his birthday, and relax for the weekend. I used social media for hours, reading about and “Tweeting” with those who were there. It was nice to hear how much learning soaked up in the minds of the participants. Everyone shared their stories and pictures. (Thank you!) Although jealously reared its ugly head, I was also excited to “see” and “hear” about the reunions of the great people I have admired from afar for many years. The “Slicer” dinner looked absolutely fabulous, and I was there in spirit. Many fellow Slicers commented to me and I felt welcome — even though I was only watching my iPad screen. “Next time,” I said.

“Story is the Landscape of Knowing.” My story starts and ends in Indiana, but stories are everywhere. My story is not new, nor is it significant in the overall scheme of things. One lesson I learned from the NCTE Conference this year is that NEXT TIME I will be a part of the landscape, paying my way if necessary. I KNOW that life is a journey, and I KNOW that my story will be told — as an insider — next year!

And since next year will NOT be 2014, nothing can stop me!

 

 

(To all those who shared with me via Facebook and Twitter, again I thank you for your generosity! I’m so glad you all had a great time at NCTE!)