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Just Like Jackie

by Lindsey Stoddard

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1005226,803 (4)None
Family is family, no matter what it looks like. Readers will cheer for this pitch-perfect story, just right for fans of such books as The Great Gilly Hopkins and Fish in a Tree. For as long as Robinson Hart can remember, it's just been her and Grandpa. He taught her about cars, baseball, and everything else worth knowing. But Grandpa's memory has been getting bad--so bad that he sometimes can't even remember Robbie's name. She's sure that she's making things worse by getting in trouble at school, but she can't resist using her fists when bullies like Alex Carter make fun of her for not having a mom. Now she's stuck in group guidance--and to make things even worse, Alex Carter is there too. There's no way Robbie's going to open up about her life to some therapy group, especially not with Alex in the room. Besides, if she told anyone how forgetful Grandpa's been getting lately, they'd take her away from him. He's the only family she has--and it's up to her to keep them together, no matter what. Praise for Just Like Jackie: "I was truly moved by this refreshing story about a scrappy young heroine and her struggle to protect her family."--Sara Pennypacker, New York Times bestselling author of Pax "Just Like Jackie is a lovely story of acceptance--about what makes a family and how we make our own families, and about embracing our differences."--Ann M. Martin, New York Times bestselling author of Rain Reign ★ "Stoddard debuts with a quiet but powerful narrative that gently unpacks Alzheimer's, centers mental health, and moves through the intimate and intense emotional landscape of family--what seems to break one and what can remake it. Validating, heart-rending, and a deft blend of suffering and inspiration."--Kirkus Reviews (starred review) "A home-run story that will resonate with all who feel they might not fit into the perfect definition of a family."--School Library Journal "Debut author Stoddard crafts a winning narrator in Robinson. A beautiful story about the true meaning of family, perfect for fans of Lynda Mullaly Hunt."--Booklist… (more)
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Showing 5 of 5
Argh, why am I spending my afternoon sobbing my eyes out? Oh, yeah, right, this book has a kick like a mule and it landed right in the feels.

Anyway. 5th grader Robinson (Robbie) is a tough kid who tries to take care of everyone around her -- her friends who are bullied, her grandfather who is losing his memory and is her whole world, herself, when other kids make fun of her. She's a gem, but she's also in trouble all the time. Great teachers step in to try and help her manage her anger and to help several of the kids in the class open up about their tough times, so that they can help each other. Especially stellar things: Robinson is 1/4 African-American and lives with her grandfather, who does not look like her. Her grandfather runs an auto shop, and Robinson helps out there and loves cars and baseball. Her grandfather's #2 guy at the auto shop and his partner are in the process of adopting a daughter through the course of the book and there's no drama about the fact that they are both men -- it's just normal background life, like it should be. The book's all about maple sugaring and auto repair and learning to deal with your feelings. Alzeimer's and Cancer and Divorce and the hard project of family trees and difficult family times, too, but also hope and helpful authority figures and coping. Pretty great read if you're into contemporary middle grade school fiction. Set in Vermont. Keep tissues handy, the emotions just leap off the page like a face sucking alien. ( )
  jennybeast | Apr 14, 2022 |
Recommended Ages: Gr. 4-7

Plot Summary: Robinson is seething mad when Alex makes a comment about her family life. Robinson is proud of who she is and she's proud of her grandpa who takes care of her. Although lately, it seems like she's doing more for Grandpa, like helping him make the mac and cheese and finishing his sentences. When Robinson punches Alex, her grandpa is called to school. Desparate to do anything to keep Grandpa from showing his forgetfulness to others, Robinson vows to be more like Jackie Robinson when he faced adversity, but it's so incredibly hard. Now Robinson is in a social work group with Alex. This doesn't seem like it's going to go well..,

Setting: Vermont (tap the maple trees)

Characters:
Robinson - mixed race, part black, knows nothing about her parents because her Grandpa refuses to talk about her mom
Grandpa - white
Alex - bully
Derek - Robinson's only friend, devoted to Robinson
Ms. Gloria - social worker
Harold - works in the autoshop with Grandpa, "practices" being a dad to prepare for adopting a baby with his husband

Recurring Themes: Alzheimer's, grief, non-traditional family, bullying, race, LGBTQ

Controversial Issues: gay men adopt a baby

Personal Thoughts: I think the assignment the teacher gave about a family tree is absolutely awful. She should have known this could be a trigger for some of her students. But the book was so well written that I felt the anger with my whole body as I was reading it. I am impressed at how many issues this book "covered" by just having them be part of the plot, not the problem. For example, Harold and his husband were adopting a baby and race.

Genre: realistic fiction

Pacing: medium
Characters: Robinson is very well developed; seems like Derek could use a bit more character development, or at least the relationship between Robinson and Derek
Frame:
Storyline:

Activity: ( )
  pigeonlover | Aug 8, 2021 |
Loved Robinson, the spunky main character and my heart went out to her more and more as the book went on. This will be a great book for kids to read while talking about being aware of other people's stories. Everyone has something they deal with in private I hope this book will help kids to recognize that so they will have compassion for those around them. ( )
  SusanGeiss | Mar 24, 2019 |
Robinson's mother died shortly after her birth and ever since, it's been her and Grandpa. Robbie was named for Jackie Robinson and Grandpa exhorts her to be "just like Jackie," especially when her temper gets the best of her. Robbie loves baseball and helping out at Grandpa's garage. But Grandpa's mind hasn't been working as well as a fine-tuned car lately. He uses the wrong words and sometimes forgets how to do simple things. Robbie feels a special responsibility to look after Grandpa fearing they will be split up. I enjoyed the warmth of their relationship and how devoted Robbie is to her grandfather. The storyline felt rather pat and predictable in its progress however. The target audience won't notice. ( )
  Salsabrarian | Mar 31, 2018 |
I think this book should be in all the school libraries, public libraries, and bookstores There is so much useful information in it. I love techniques for controlling anger, and getting children to understand taking turns in talking. Plus, I learned something about simple car repairs. Also I learned more about Alzheimer's. I enjoyed the references to Jackie Robinson and the acknowledgement of racial discrimination. I cannot believe how many different things the author taught about in this page turning tale.

I loved all the characters, the main character ,Robinson Hart, was growing up and also dealing with her grandfather's memory being hurt or Alzheimer's. She grieved and was angry that this was happening to him. His love became the nucleus of her home. She learned that her world of support and sharing was much bigger than just herself and her grandfather! I have done a lot of family genealogy but now I can view my own family tree in a new and special way. Thirdly, I have a friend who has moved in with her father who has Alzheimer's and fighting the idea of putting him in a nursing home. This book gave a temporary solution to a big and personal problem.

I highly recommend that everyone, no matter what age they are, read this book. I received a finished copy of this book from the publishers after winning it in a FirstReads giveaway. All the ideas and thoughts in this review are entirely my own, ( )
  Carolee888 | Feb 24, 2018 |
Showing 5 of 5
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Family is family, no matter what it looks like. Readers will cheer for this pitch-perfect story, just right for fans of such books as The Great Gilly Hopkins and Fish in a Tree. For as long as Robinson Hart can remember, it's just been her and Grandpa. He taught her about cars, baseball, and everything else worth knowing. But Grandpa's memory has been getting bad--so bad that he sometimes can't even remember Robbie's name. She's sure that she's making things worse by getting in trouble at school, but she can't resist using her fists when bullies like Alex Carter make fun of her for not having a mom. Now she's stuck in group guidance--and to make things even worse, Alex Carter is there too. There's no way Robbie's going to open up about her life to some therapy group, especially not with Alex in the room. Besides, if she told anyone how forgetful Grandpa's been getting lately, they'd take her away from him. He's the only family she has--and it's up to her to keep them together, no matter what. Praise for Just Like Jackie: "I was truly moved by this refreshing story about a scrappy young heroine and her struggle to protect her family."--Sara Pennypacker, New York Times bestselling author of Pax "Just Like Jackie is a lovely story of acceptance--about what makes a family and how we make our own families, and about embracing our differences."--Ann M. Martin, New York Times bestselling author of Rain Reign ★ "Stoddard debuts with a quiet but powerful narrative that gently unpacks Alzheimer's, centers mental health, and moves through the intimate and intense emotional landscape of family--what seems to break one and what can remake it. Validating, heart-rending, and a deft blend of suffering and inspiration."--Kirkus Reviews (starred review) "A home-run story that will resonate with all who feel they might not fit into the perfect definition of a family."--School Library Journal "Debut author Stoddard crafts a winning narrator in Robinson. A beautiful story about the true meaning of family, perfect for fans of Lynda Mullaly Hunt."--Booklist

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