Friday, July 01, 2016

Middle-Grade Review: The Magnificent Mya Tibbs

I recently listened to a middle-grade audiobook that is the start of a new series: The Magnificent Mya Tibbs: Spirit Week Showdown by Crystal Allen. Younger middle-grade readers (particularly girls) will love this spunky new heroine!

Nine-year old Mya Tibbs can hardly contain her excitement for Spirit Week. She’s in 4th grade, and her brother, Nugget, is in 5th grade at the same elementary school. Mya looks forward to Spirit Week every year – kids get partnered up and get to do all kinds of fun projects and dress up in cool costumes each day to show their school spirit. Mya has plans to partner with her best friend, Naomi Jackson, who just won the Junior Miss Lone Star Pageant. It’s going to be the best Spirit Week ever!

Mya’s excitement is crushed, though, when her teacher assigns her to partner with Mean Connie, the class bully, instead. To make matters worse, now Naomi won’t speak to her and convinces their mutual friends to give Mya the cold shoulder, too. Meanwhile, her brother, Nugget, intentionally drops his own best friend, Fish, a goofy kid who likes to celebrate bizarre holidays, like National Aardvark Day, in order to team up for Spirit Week with Solo, the cool boy in his class.

As you might guess, both of their plans for Spirit Week go horribly wrong, with disasters around every corner. Instead of the best Spirit Week ever, Mya is afraid it will be the worst. Mya and Nugget are both in for some surprises, though, as they learn more about their respective best friends, as well as their Spirit Week partners. Things turn out much different than either of them predicted, with plenty of surprises in store for readers, too.

Mya is a lively and likable character, a girl full of enthusiasm and high spirit. I liked the close relationships she has with her brother and her parents – finally, a children’s book where the parents aren’t either dead, absent, or evil! Mya lives in Texas, wears pink cowboy boots, and is obsessed with a celebrity named Cowgirl Claire. Her parents own Tibbs Farm and Ranch Store, where Mya and Nugget often help out, and the entire novel has an exuberant western style. The audiobook featured a narrator with a nice Texas twang, which added to the fun tone and setting.

Mya is a wonderful new heroine for elementary-aged girls to love. She means well, though she doesn’t always get things right. However, she learns a lot in this first novel about the true meaning of friendship and what it means to be a good friend. Along the way, there is a lot of fun and excitement, Texas-style!

HarperChildren’s Audio

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