Friday, February 7, 2020


by Kate Messner
240 pages; ages 10 - 14
Bloomsbury Children's Books, 2020

When Mia moves to Vermont the summer after seventh grade, she’s recovering from a broken arm – the result of a gymnastics accident. She’s trying to forget an ugly part of her life. And she becomes involved in a mystery: who is sabotaging grandma’s cricket farm?

At first, the sabotage sounds like coincidence, and mom alludes to grandma’s stroke. Maybe grandma is not up to running a cricket farm? But Mia thinks there’s nothing wrong with grandma, and is determined to help her out – in between attending a “warrior sports camp” and a “launch camp” for young entrepreneurs. While feeding and cleaning crickets, Mia learns that grandma is in debt. What can a kid do?

Mia talks to her friends, and they create a publicity campaign for the cricket farm. Meanwhile, Mia becomes more certain that someone is sabotaging the cricket farm. On top of that, Mia’s young cousin wants to take gymnastics. Mia wants to warn someone about the coach … but when she tries to talk to mom, her throat closes up.

Can Mia find the courage to talk to her parents about what happened in gymnastics? Will she find a way to capture the cricket farm saboteur? Will she ever regain strength in her arm so she can climb the wall? Inquiring readers want to know.

What I like love about this book: The characters have depth, the pacing is perfect, and it’s clear that Kate Messner has done her entomophagy research! Grandma’s cricket farm is grounded in reality and, with a quick internet search, you could probably find recipes for her flavored cricket snacks. Or at least the cookies…

I like that, in addition to abuse issues with Mia’s gymnastic coach, Kate shines a light on how we perceive – and treat – seniors. Both are family issues as well as social issues, and Kate creates an opportunity for readers to ponder how we interact with those we trust and those we love. Kate broaches tough subjects in a way that empowers both her characters and the reader.

Kate is a member of #STEAMTeam2020. You can find out more about her at her website.
Thanks for dropping by today. On Monday we'll be hanging out at Marvelous Middle Grade Monday with other  bloggers. It's over at Greg Pattridge's blog, Always in the Middle, so hop over to see what other people are reading. ARC provided by the publisher.


  1. Terrific review. This is way at the top of my TBR list. Thanks for the post.

  2. I have this on my pile of books to read and now maybe I'll have to move it up. I've always like Kate Messner and I really looking forward to reading her books. Thanks for this inspiring review.

  3. Great review. I just saw that this book was being released and was curious about it. Thanks so much.

  4. Very enticing review! The contemporary story with a touch of mystery thrown in should appeal to MG readers including myself. Thanks for featuring on MMGM.

  5. Enthusiastic review! This really sounds like a great read!

  6. A cricket farm! That sounds so cool to read about and definitely the type of farm I am sure no other book covers.

  7. I've seen this one a lot. It's on my list. I really just have to read it now!

  8. I liked this one, but will pass on the eating crickets challenge!