I love middle grade novels. Last year I did a post about why I love reading the young adult genre, and I think I may have to do a similar one about middle grade in the future. MG novels are the best! The characters are usually around 10 to 13 years old and still figuring out who they are, where they fit in, and what the world is all about (aren’t we all?!)
I recently received a new MG novel from Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, Ruby in the Sky by Jeanne Zulick Ferruolo. To be honest, the title and the cover drew me in right away. Yes, I know, we’re not supposed to judge books by their covers. But, come on, look at it! Those beautifully blended winter blues and purples in the trees and reflecting off the snow…that gorgeous pink moon…the young girl dancing in the snow…and is that a dog? For a dog mom like myself, you just can’t beat a book with a dog on the cover. I was intrigued from the get-go.
Ruby Moon is a 12 year old girl who, after a family tragedy in D.C., moves with her mother back to her mother’s hometown for a fresh start. Ruby’s mom is from a small town in Vermont, so you can be sure that newcomers are scrutinized and talked about. Ruby is a painfully shy introvert who is feeling lost. This is for good reason. We quickly learn that Ruby’s dad is no longer in the picture. He had been a police officer in D.C. While we never learn the details of why he “went away,” the tragedy they are leaving behind infers he was lost in the line of duty.
This book had me from the word go. It opens with Ruby’s mom being arrested. Yes, arrested! In a small town, gossip travels fast, and Ruby soon finds herself the new kid in school without a father and with her mother arrested. Ruby is quickly an outsider in her classroom, but finds kindness from a couple of other students.
Ahmad, from Syria, and Melanie, who has family problems of her own, try to befriend Ruby. Meanwhile, Dakota, the class bully, soon sets her sights on Ruby, determined to make her the new school joke.
Ruby also befriends fellow town outsider, Abigail Jacobs, otherwise known as “The Bird Lady.” Abigail has been dealing with her own family losses for several years and is also subjected to town gossip. Ruby and Abigail form a connection and become friends. Their relationship was reminiscent of The Witch of Blackbird Pond.
I can honestly say that I loved this book! I read it in one day because I couldn’t put it down. Ruby in the Sky deals with so many issues plaguing kids today – judging others based on appearances, where they’re from, or how they speak, bullying, and learning to stand up for yourself.
Ruby was a brave little girl, dealing with so much for a child. I highly recommend this book for middle grade readers and would love to see it in classrooms and school libraries!