Monday, March 10, 2014

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Record Breaker

I’ve decided to read all the nominees for the 2014 Silver Birch Award from the Ontario Library Association and I hope I will finish them by early May when kids will pick a winner. If you’re interested in what I have to say about them, these are the ones I’ve read so far: Eldritch Manor by Kim Thompson, Nobody's Dog by Ria Voros, Ultra by David Carroll, The Curse of the Dream Witch by Allan Stratton, and The Hypnotists by Gordon Korman

Today’s Pick: Record Breaker

by Robin Stevenson

Orca, 2013

From Amazon:

It's 1963, and Jack's family is still reeling from the SIDS death of his baby sister. Adrift in his own life, Jack is convinced that setting a world record will bring his father back to his senses and his mother back to life. But world events, including President Kennedy's assassination, threaten to overshadow any record Jack tries to beat—from sausage eating to face slapping. Nothing works, and Jack is about to give up when a new friend suggests a different approach that involves listening to, not breaking, records.

My Take:

This is a touching story about a boy trying to cope with the sadness in his family after his baby sister’s death. It was easy to relate to Jack, trying different things to try to help his mom and his dad back to a point where they can be stronger family. It’s a fairly short, easy to read story that kept my attention all the way through. There are some funny parts to the story, especially what happens as Jack tries to break different world records.

As a writer, I liked how the author wove in historical details from the time period of the story (1963). The writing style was straightforward with enough detail to give a good picture in my mind of what was happening.

 Opening Line:

“The world record for rocking in a rocking chair is ninety-three hours and eight minutes, set six years ago, in 1957, by Mrs. Ralph Weir, of Truro, Nova Scotia.”


“Everything seemed so wrong lately, and it seemed to me that the wrongness must show.”

“It didn’t seem right for the teacher to know about what was going on in my family when I hardly knew anything myself.”

Other Info:

Robin Stevenson lives in British Columbia, Canada and loves to travel. She enjoyed writing when she was a child, but stopped in high school and then got interested again after her son was born.

On her website Q & A, she says this about her writing: “I like to write the same way I read– to keep turning the pages to see what happens next.”

Other books by this author include:

A Thousand Shades of Blue
Ben the Inventor
Ben’s Robot
Big Guy
Dead In the Water
Escape Velocity
Hummingbird Heart
Impossible Things
In the Woods
Liars and Fools
Out of Order

The World Without Us

 For more, visit Robin Stevenson's website.

You can find more Marvelous Middle Grade Monday books by checking out Shannon Messenger’s blog! Shannon is the founder of Marvelous Middle Grade Monday and the author of the middle grade novels, Keeper of the Lost Cities and Exile(Keeper of the Lost Cities #2).


  1. That quote about the wrongness wrenches my heart. I wish more of people's wrongess did show. We try to hide so much of it and then nothing gets better.

  2. This sounds like a good read and I hadn't heard of it. Thanks for sharing!

  3. I love Robin Stevenson's quote: “I like to write the same way I read– to keep turning the pages to see what happens next.” That is something we writers should aspire to.

    Thanks for continually introducing me to amazing Canadian writers. I wish they were all better known south of the border!

  4. Wow, she's written a lot of books and I'm ashamed to say I'm not familiar with any of them. This one sounds great!

  5. This sounds intriguing! I don't think I've read a book that deals with SIDS. I echo what others have said--it's great to hear about all these Canadian authors!

  6. Sounds like a touching story, and I love historical.


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