Monday in the Middle: Wish Girl and Firegirl
Looking for a few more good reads to squeeze into these last few weeks of summer? Here’s another installment of Monday in the Middle with librarian and media specialist Gabija Fischer!
Peter Stone, of Nikki Loftin’s Wish Girl, wants nothing more than calmness, but his home is filled with noise. His parents shouting and his baby sister crying drive him to search for solace, and that is exactly what he finds in the valley near his new home. His solitude, however, is short-lived, for someone else has happened upon this magical valley as well. Annie, self-named “wish girl,” searching for a similar peace, finds more than that. She finds Peter. And in each other they find a listening ear, a life-changing friend, and a glimmer of hope in their seemingly hopeless lives.
Loftin’s story of magical realism was hard for me to get into, but something kept drawing me back. Maybe it was the beautiful prose, or maybe it was the sadness of Peter. Whatever it was, I am glad I stuck it out. Wish Girl is a beautiful story, one that needs to be told in a world where we are so quick to judge each other and even quicker to try to fix people to be more like ourselves. Although Loftin’s story reminds me to accept people for who they are, more importantly, it reminds me of the power listening, actually listening, has.
It’s just a regular day in seventh-grade for Tom and his classmates until their teacher announces the arrival of a new member of the class. In Firegirl, by Tony Abbott, Jessica joins the 7th grade class at St. Catherine’s, and all of their lives are instantly changed. Since Jessica had been badly burned in a fire, most people she encounters fear her. All of her new classmates are no different, at least at first. There is one boy,Tom, who slowly befriends Jessica. Firegirl is the story of Tom’s growth, Tom’s learning to see people for who they are.
Firegirl, told through Tom’s perspective, is a short and simple story, but it is packed with emotion. Raw, realistic emotion. Although Jessica is the title character, the story focuses more on Tom, his fears, his insecurities, his discomfort, and his growth. Reminiscent of Wonder by AJ Palacio (you can read my review of Wonder here), Abbott’s tale seems to be aimed at a younger audience, not in subject matter but in depth of the exploration of the theme. Don’t get me wrong; both stories were moving, but it was sometimes hard for me to believe the character in Firegirl were in 7th grade. They seemed to act and even think younger. But like Wonder, Firegirl left me hoping that more people read books like these and begin to see that we should always choose kindness. Kindness matters.
Gabija Fischer currently works in the Tredyffrin Easttown School District. She has been immersed in young adult and children’s literature this school year since she is currently working as the library media specialist at the middle school. The best part of her day is the part that follows the question, “Can you help me find a book?” Finding the answer to that question feeds her competitive nature, as she views the search like solving a puzzle. She finds much excitement in finding just the right book for someone.