Monday, July 31, 2017

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday – CYCLONE by Doreen Cronin

I can’t resist stories that include some kind of medical drama!

Description from the publisher:

Riding the Cyclone, the world famous Coney Island roller coaster, was supposed to be the highlight of Nora’s summer. But right after they disembark, Nora’s cousin Riley falls to the ground…and doesn’t get up. Nora had begged and dragged Riley onto the ride, and no matter what the doctors say, that she had a heart condition, that it could have happened at any time, Nora knows it was her fault. Then, as Riley comes out of her coma, she’s not really Riley at all. The cousin who used to be loud and funny and unafraid now can’t talk, let alone go to the bathroom by herself. No, she’s only 10% Riley.

Nora, guilt eating her up on the inside worse than a Coney Island hotdog, thinks she knows how to help. How to get 100% Riley back. But what Nora doesn’t realize is that the guilt will only get worse as that percentage rises.

Cyclone was written by Doreen Cronin and published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers in 2017.

Why you want to read this book… 

It’s a unique medical-related story. I’ve never come across a book about a girl who had a stroke before, so I found the details about what happened to Riley and her rehabilitation intriguing. I definitely wanted to read on to find out what would happen. I liked the perspective of Nora as the narrator and her attempts to try to create “sparks” in her cousin.

 “Taking a nervous breath, I put on my absolute coolest face, trying to look like those girls do in the yogurt commercials where they look all carefree and chill with their little spoons and hips shaking everywhere.”

If you’re a writer… 

You might study this book as an example of first person perspective. The problems Norah faces with her guilt, her worry for her sister and feeling crowded by family are just right for a middle grade novel. I thought it was very realistic how Norah’s understanding of Riley’s condition and what she needed changed as I moved through the novel.

“My legs were beginning to feel foreign to me from the hours I spend every day sitting in the car, sitting in the family room, sitting in Riley’s room—then sitting in the car again. My legs were getting depressed, and I didn’t want it to spread to the rest of me.”

If you’re a teacher…

I really liked the way this story includes Nora’s drawings for Riley’s personalized communication board. It would be interesting to have students create their own, making the essential icons they would need if they couldn’t communicate verbally. It might be interesting to pair this with Falling Over Sideways by Jordan Sonnenblick, a story about a girl whose father has had a stroke.

“It was the word you use when you have no idea what to say. The word you might use if you woke up in a room with your family laughing their heads off while you try to recover from a stroke and hope your mother is coming back soon.”

Opening Line:

“The last word I understood completely from my cousin Riley’s mouth was the F-bomb.”

Other Info:

Doreen Cronin is the author of the popular picture book Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type and many other fun picture books, including the other books in the Click, Clack series and the Bug Diaries. Cyclone is her debut middle grade novel.

Here’s the book trailer for the novel:


  1. This is the kind of book I like to share. I've not read a book about a teen having a stroke. But, it happens. There aren't a lot of books about brain injuries either. This reminds me a bit of Lisa Graff's novel "Lost in the Sun."

  2. Even without your review, this has me hooked. Thanks!


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