Monday, April 28, 2014

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Eliza Bing is (Not) a Big, Fat Quitter

The book I’m featuring today is by my friend and part-time Ninja, Carmella Van Vleet! It’s a great story about taekwondo and not giving up. Carmella also has a very cool “Black Belt in Kindness Club” on her website that kids can join when they do something nice for a friend.

Today’s Pick: Eliza Bing is (Not) a Big, Fat Quitter

by Carmella Van Vleet

Holiday House, 2014

From Amazon:

In this uplifting novel about determination and the rewards of hard work, a preteen girl struggling with ADHD must stick with a summer taekwondo class to prove that she’s dedicated enough to pursue her true passion: cake decorating.

My Take:

Eliza’s personality really shines in this story. It’s fun reading about the trouble she gets into and how she tries to get herself out if it. I also enjoyed the fact that her parents and family were in the story and supporting her, even though Eliza solves her own problems. (None of that “dead parents” syndrome common in many middle grade books.)  It was great to read a story where the main character has a disorder (ADHD), but where coping with it isn’t the main focus of the story.

As a writer, I think this would be a great book to study if you’re working on creating a unique character voice. It’s also interesting that the book is organized in short sections rather than chapters, which fits with Eliza’s personality and her ADHD.

Opening Line:

“I was peanut butter, and Tony was jelly.”


“Mom says decisions are like coats because they weigh on your shoulders.”

“But I found out wanting to do something isn’t anywhere near being able to do something.”

Other Info:

Carmella Van Vleet is a full-time writer who lives in Ohio. She writes non-fiction as well as fiction. Eliza Bing is (Not) a Big, Fat Quitter is her debut middle grade novel.

In an interview with Debbie Ridpath Ohi at Inkygirl, Carmella gave this advice for writers: “One of the most important things you have to remember is not to compare yourself to other writers.”

Carmella talks about writing non-fiction for middle graders in an interview for Middle Grade March

Non-fiction books by this author include:

Great Ancient EGYPT Projects: You Can Build Yourself

Amazing BEN FRANKLIN Inventions: You Can Build Yourself

Seven Wonders of the World: Discover Amazing Monuments to Civilization with 20 Projects

Explore Ancient Greece!: 25 Great Projects, Activities, Experiments

Amazing Arctic & Antarctic Projects You Can Build Yourself (Build It Yourself series)

Explore Electricity!: With 25 Great Projects

Writing Club: A Year of Writing Workshops for Grades 2-5

For more, visit Carmella Van Vleet’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. I've heard great things about this. And I love the first line.

  2. Love the sound of this one! And what a great topic for kids who struggle with ADD/ADHD, and their friends and families.

    1. The taekwondo classes are pretty interesting, even if (like me) you know nothing about the sport.

  3. Aww shucks, Andrea! Thanks for featuring Eliza! :-)

    1. You're welcome! I think it's a great book that lots of kids will enjoy.

  4. Thanks for the great review on a book new to me. I have been trying to focus on books with good voice so this one fits in perfectly.

  5. What a fun opening line! This sounds like a great story, especially the positive aspects of it, like the fact that her ADHD isn't the focus of the story, but simply part of who she is.

    1. I think it's a great one for a classroom or school library book collection.

  6. I thought what you said about the chapters being unconventional because of her ADHD was really interesting. This sounds wonderful--and I'm excited to see more books about kids with ADHD out in the world.
    Can't wait to read this!

  7. This sounds like a terrific book. Thanks for telling me about it.

  8. I need to put this on my TBR list.


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