From acclaimed author Kate Messner comes the powerful story of a young girl with the courage to make her voice heard, set against the backdrop of a summertime mystery.

When Mia moves to Vermont the summer after seventh grade, she’s recovering from the broken arm she got falling off a balance beam. And packed away in the moving boxes under her clothes and gymnastics trophies is a secret she’d rather forget.

Mia’s change in scenery brings day camp, new friends, and time with her beloved grandmother. But Gram is convinced someone is trying to destroy her cricket farm. Is it sabotage or is Gram’s thinking impaired from the stroke she suffered months ago? Mia and her friends set out to investigate, but can they uncover the truth in time to save Gram’s farm? And will that discovery empower Mia to confront the secret she’s been hiding–and find the courage she never knew she had?

In a compelling story rich with friendship, science, and summer fun, a girl finds her voice while navigating the joys and challenges of growing up.

Chirp, Kate Messner
February 4, 2020

I came across Chirp (and Kate Messner) while at the SCBWI NYC 2020 conference. She was a keynote speaker and she talked at length about this book since it just came out a few days before. The conference was February 7-9. Hearing Kate Messner talk about this book got me intrigued and reading it now has me fascinated.

Chirp is a fantastic middle grade novel about Mia, who is moving back to her home town in Vermont. Mia enjoys sitting on the couch and watching Dealing with Sharks (a spin on Shark Tank) and American Warrior Challenge (a spin on American Ninja Warrior), eating snacks, and not doing much else since she broke her arm at gymnastics. So, obviously, instantly able to relate to, am I right?

The issue with that though is that Mia’s parents don’t want her spending her whole summer sitting on the couch. So, Mia is forced to join two summer camps, “something for [her] body and something for [her] brain’ as her mother orders. Mia joins Warrior Camp as well as Launch Camp, which is like a camp for future entrepreneurs.

But what does all of this have to do with the word that is the title, Chirp? Right? Well, the business that Mia decides to focus on is saving her grandmother’s cricket farm. What’s a cricket farm? Good question. It is a place where Mia’s grandmother raises and harvests crickets for people to eat. Let that sink in. For people to eat. Now, prior to reading this book, would I ever have considered eating bugs. No. No chance in heck. Absolutely not. After reading Chirp, I wish I had them as snacks right now. Sure, that sounds crazy but that’s the power of Kate Messner’s writing.

Now, there’s another issue in Chirp that needs dealing with. Mia was assaulted by her gymnastics coach where she previously lived. I believe that Kate Messner does a masterful job at introducing the idea, discussing it in a natural and realistic way, and showing young readers how to navigate the scary reality of getting help after being assaulted. Now, Kate Messner does not have some out-of-nowhere visceral and grotesque assault scene for Mia. Thank god! But there is sincere scenes of Mia talking with several people about her assault. Honestly, I was wiping away tears on a plane reading the scenes. They are amazing.

I hope everyone gives this book a chance and reads it. This book is one I bought, read, and loved so much that I needed to review it. Kate Messner has written an amazing book here and everybody owes it to themselves to give it a read. It should be on everyone’s bookshelf and in every classroom.

My Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Published by D.S. Davis

Hello, my name is D.S. Davis. I am a YA and Middle Grade writer currently seeking an agent. I am the MFA in Creative Writing program coordinator at Sierra Nevada University, where I graduated in January 2020 having studied specifically writing for children and young adults. I'm a Jersey boy who has moved to Truckee, California in pursuit of mountain living and to immerse myself in the writing program that changed my life. I can be found on Twitter and Instagram @thedsdavis

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