THE PLOT: ‘Sir Fig Newton and the Science of Persistence’ by Sonja Thomas is a middle grade novel about a 12-year-old girl who needs to raise money to save her cat’s life. Mira Williams is having the worse summer. Her dad has lost his job, her best friend has moved away and now her cat (Sir Fig Newton) is sick. Without the money to save him, her parents suggest they give Sir Fig Newton away. The only solution is for science-lover-Mira to raise the money herself.

RATING: Four stars. This is a fun novel for younger readers, with a loveable main character and wonderful BIPOC representation. Despite its sweet and light-hearted tone, it’s a moving story about friendship, family and loss. With teachable moments about how to deal with difficult times and persisting in your goals, Sonja Thomas is a wonderful new children’s fiction author.

GOOD BITS: The star of this novel is the protagonist, Mira. The author has done a great job of capturing her voice as it feels so warm and authentic. Throughout the novel the characterisation is spot-on as the supporting characters are wonderful too; I especially loved Mira’s dynamic with her best friend, Thomas, and nemesis, Tamika. Mira’s love of science is a consistent theme throughout the novel and it was funny how each chapter started with a different “fact”. This book is wonderful inspiration for young girls interested in STEM and filled with learning about astronomy and astrophysics.

NOT SO GOOD BITS: At 350 pages, this felt very long for a middle-grade and I found myself skim-reading towards the end. Although the science aspect was so cute, it was a tad repetitive and some passages felt too educational, as if they weren’t fully integrated into the plot. I also felt like the science aspect would have more of a role in Mira’s fundraising efforts. Personally, I would cut out the STEM camp. While it was cute, it could have been easily edited out to make the novel shorter. I also feel like the resolution could’ve come much faster to speed up the ending.

OVERALL: I’d recommend this book to lovers of ‘Empress & Aniya’ by Candice Carty-Williams and ‘The Offline Diaries’ by Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinené. It’d be perfect for a ten or eleven-year-old who loved ‘Look Up’ by Nathan Bryon when they were little.

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