I got a copy of this book through the LibraryThing Early Reviewer’s program. I’m really happy I did, because it might not have been something that would have immediately caught my eye in the bookstore with all the other childrens and YA books I have on my TBR list.
The Mealworm Diaries is about Jeremy, a young boy who moves with his mother from Nova Scotia to Toronto after a horrible accident that kills Jeremy’s father. Starting any school is hard, but it’s especially hard for Jeremy who still hasn’t completely recovered from his father’s death. He was also involved in the accident – his leg isn’t completely healed from it, and he’s now suffering from nightmares. Things at school aren’t as bad as they could have been – Jeremy’s made a couple of friends, and there’s a cute girl he likes, but he’s been partnered with Aaron to study mealworms. And Jeremy thinks Aaron is one annoying kid – he is constantly bouncing around, has no attention span, and very few social skills. But soon Jeremy realizes that there is a lot more that he can learn from Aaron than he expected.
I sat down with this book to dinner last night. I didn’t move from the table until two hours later when I finished the last page. I devoured this book, and enjoyed every second of it.
It deals with some heavy issues, but does so in a way that is very relatable. It doesn’t make a big deal out of these issues, just treats them like everyday, normal things. Which is awesome. For example, Aaron – his mother had cancer, and was given radiation treatment before doctors realized she was pregnant with Aaron. The radiation DID have a huge effect on Aaron, and he has some disabilities as a result. While this is evident, it’s not something that is outright spoken about. It goes into kids picking on other kids with disabilities because they don’t know what’s going on, and does it in a way that lets the reader know that it’s not a cool thing to do without sounding preachy. Other tough subjects it mentions include bed wetting and the recent death of a parent. But, as I said, it was done in an awesome way that kids will be able to understand and relate to, even if they didn’t go through those situations themselves.
But it wasn’t just a book that talked about serious stuff – I actually care for the characters as well, and what they were going through, and was impressed that (even though these heavier topics were covered) it was such a light, easy and entertaining read.
Does anyone know, has Anna Kerz written other books? Her bio in the back of the book just mentions that this was her first book with Orca Book Publishers, and I can’t find any info of her online. If she has written more stuff, I want to read it… if she hasn’t, then I’ll definitely be keeping my eye out for her in the future.
Bottom Line: Yay for Canadian authors who write awesome children’s books. I definitely recommend this book. It was thoroughly enjoyable and it will be something I will, no doubt, return to.