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Farah Rocks Fifth Grade by Susan Muaddi…

Farah Rocks Fifth Grade (edition 2020)

by Susan Muaddi Darraj (Author), Ruaida Mannaa (Illustrator)

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Title:Farah Rocks Fifth Grade
Authors:Susan Muaddi Darraj (Author)
Other authors:Ruaida Mannaa (Illustrator)
Info:Capstone Press (2020), Edition: Illustrated, 144 pages
Collections:Your library

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Farah Rocks Fifth Grade by Susan Muaddi Darraj


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Farah is looking forward to finishing fifth grade. She is hopeful and excited about going to a special middle school with her best friend, Allie Liu, and being able to explore her own interest in science, especially geology, further. She loves her Arab-American family and her little brother Samir, and is happy to take care of him after school when her parents are still working. She keeps an eye on Samir at school too, since his developmental delays mean he often struggles with understanding other people or simple tasks.

That's how the trouble starts - Farah is secure in her status as a smart kid, trusts her teachers and family, and with her parents' encouragement is ready to excel at any new challenge. Until Dana shows up. She's from Texas and she's, well, mean. It starts as little things, making fun of Farah's name, teasing Samir, and then it gets worse. Farah tries to talk to her friend and her teachers, but nobody is listening. Allie seems to like Dana and her teachers do too. They don't see how mean she is and how she is leading other kids to mock Samir.

Her parents are dealing with money worries at home and Farah decides she just can't risk leaving Samir alone at school next year - so she won't be going to the Magnet Academy. She comes up with a plan - she'll fail her tests and get low grades and then she'll stay in the same school as Samir. But things just keep getting more complicated until Farah finally has to speak up and make things right.

If you asked me for 300+ page fantasies or award-winning books about coming of age, I can hand you plenty. But what do I actually have? A lot of kids who are struggling readers. A LOT. Most of them will take one look at the size of the average "middle grade" fare and just give up. So I need more books like this one. It's age-appropriate and a good fit for my general population of 3rd - 5th graders - Farah has some independence, makes good and bad decisions, but nothing too earth-shattering happens to her. There are some issues, including bullying and the changes kids deal with going into middle school, but they're lightly dealt with. The addition of a character with special needs is great, as that is a significant population in my area. This isn't going to change the world, win an award, or become a bestseller, but it's thoughtful, pleasant reading with diverse protagonists, a gentle message, and is easily readable by kids who struggle or are not voracious readers and just want something quick to enjoy.

Verdict: A very nice addition to my chapter book offerings, I will definitely be purchasing the rest of this series.

ISBN: 9781496583390; Published 2020 by Stone Arch/Capstone; Review copy provided by publisher; Donated to the library
  JeanLittleLibrary | Aug 2, 2020 |
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