MG Takes on Thursday

This is my weekly meme celebrating amazing middle-grade books, now with a re-vamped banner!

How to take part:

  • Post a picture of the front cover of a middle-grade book which you have read and would recommend to others with details of the author, illustrator and publisher.
  • Open the book to page 11 and share your favourite sentence. 
  • Write three words to describe the book.
  • Either share why you would recommend this book, or link to your review.

This week, I’m celebrating …

Written by  Sabine Adeyinka
Cover Illustration by Hanako Clulow
Published by Chicken House

Favourite Sentence from Page 11:

She did her usual victory dance, and whenever Caro danced, the celebration would last that bit longer.

This book in three words:

ADVENTURE, FRIENDSHIP, SCHOOL

Jummy at the River School is an absolute joyous, heart-warming story which immersed me in a vibrant and wondrously energetic Nigerian boarding school adventure.    

Eleven-year-old Jumoke (Jummy) is eager to leave primary school, and dreams of attending boarding school.  She is delighted when she earns a place at the prestigious River School, a well-respected girls’ boarding school in Nigeria.  She has fulfilled her dream, and made her family proud, but she is also sad to be leaving behind her best friend Caro. 

After her summer holiday, Jummy arrives at the station to travel to school where she meets Lola, a friend’s cousin who helps her settle into her dorm in Nile House.  It is not long before Jummy feels a part of the school with midnight feasts, undertaking duties, practising for the Harmattan Games and attending lessons amongst a group of girls who are welcoming, friendly and fun.  She soon forms some firm friendships, and settles easily into her new life with its camaraderie and teamwork.

Imagine her surprise and joy when an old friend arrives with the Matron.  Jummy is overjoyed to be reunited with Caro, but soon discovers that Caro is not there as a student, but to work as a maid.  Jummy quickly renews her friendship with Caro, and is determined, with help from her new friends, to help her gain the education she deserves, but not everyone is keen to have her succeed.  Will Jummy’s attempts to help her friend be thwarted by the spite of others?

Jummy is a wonderful young girl who has real joie de vivre and is not averse to a little bit of mischief!  She makes friends readily and is warm, friendly and kind-hearted.  She has a keen sense of fairness, and a determination to make a difference and to address injustice.   

The setting of this story is so richly described – a feast for the senses – that I felt myself transported to the River School with its sights, sounds and tastes from the Shine-Shine River with stories of crocodiles to dorm life to midnight feasts with delicious sounding food like puffpuff, chinchin and agbalumo.  I must admit to looking these up and they do sound yummy!

Whilst this is a story filled with warmth, friendship and vibrancy, it also addresses inequalities in relation to class, education and poverty which I thought were brilliantly woven into the story, and in a way which will encourage empathy in readers and raise opportunities for further discussion.

This is a beautifully told, heart-warming story of the strength and joy of friendship, of standing up for the rights of others and of making a difference. 

Thank you to Laura Smythe and Chicken House for providing me with an early copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

I’d love if anyone who wants to give this meme a go would comment in the comments box and include a link to your post so I can visit, comment and find some great middle-grade recommendations. If you do create a post and are on Twitter, and would like to share your post, please use the hashtag  #MGTakesOnThursday so I can find it, read it and share it!

4 thoughts on “MG Takes on Thursday

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