Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “My Life in Dioramas” as Want to Read:
My Life in Dioramas
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

My Life in Dioramas

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  98 ratings  ·  32 reviews

Kate Marino knows very well that home is where her heart is, and if she had any say in the matter, her heart would stay put in Big Red. The old, rambling farmhouse has withstood the test of time with her family, but now Kate's parents have decided to sell it from under her feet.

The preventative solution: sabotage the realtor's tours with the help of best friends and a plan

Kindle Edition, 256 pages
Published April 28th 2015 by Running Press (first published January 1st 2015)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about My Life in Dioramas, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about My Life in Dioramas

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.93  · 
Rating details
 ·  98 ratings  ·  32 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Brandy Painter
Originally posted here at Random Musings of a Bibliophile.

My Life in Dioramas by Tara Altebrando is a wonderful heart-warming MG story about change, friendship, and family told with humor and realism.

Kate has lived her entire life in Big Red, the old farmhouse her parents own. Now half way through her 7th grade year they tell her they are moving. Worse, they are moving in with her grandparents because they are in financial trouble. Kate has to leave her school, dance class, friends, and the only
Mar 19, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Twelve year old Kate loves her home, “Big Red”. She loves its quirks, big back yard, even its stinkbug problem. So when her parents put Big Red up for sale because of money problems, Kate’s convinced her life is ruined. And when her dance class finally gets a chance to compete at Dance Nation, Kate just knows she can’t move. So what’s a smart, resourceful girl to do? Sabotage, of course! With the help of some bags of stink, some noisy neighbors, and her friends, Kate sets out to make her house u ...more
Ms. Yingling
Kate enjoys her life in her family's old house. Both of her parents freelance, so there's lots of time for them to do things together. The problems is that they are struggling financially, and decide to sell the large farmhouse and move in with Kate's grandparents, who live about an hour away. Kate is upset because she would have to leave her good friends Stella and Naveen, and she would miss a big dance competition. Stella also dances, and the two have always been close, but Stella wants to tra ...more
Heather Gunnell
I flew right through this one. Loved it! Full review to come soon at
Liz Friend
The story: Kate's family has run out of money, and now they have to move--right when her dance team has decided to attend a big competition the girls have been dying to try for years. While the rest of the team gets ready, Kate tries to sabotage her parents' real estate deal: first by stashing stinky stuff around the house to discourage possible buyers, then by planting loud noises around to bug people who come to the open house. But when the house deal goes through and it looks like the family ...more
Isobel McIntosh
Jul 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: media-log-books
Tara loves the big, sprawling house she calls "Big Red", stinkbugs and all. So when she discovers that her parents are selling it, she springs into action to sabotage the sale with lots of stinky surprises. To add to the confusion, her Mom isn't herself, and her best friend is acting strangely when it comes to an upcoming dance competition. Tara finds some comfort in the dioramas she constructs of her beloved home, capturing the memories of "Big Red".

My Life in Dioramas is written in a clear, st
Heather Gunnell
Staff Pick

This book is full of emotional ups and downs. Most children have faced the uncertainty of moving to a new place, which makes this story very relatable. I love that Kate is a dancer; she reminded me a lot of my dancing days when I was younger.
Oct 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Alex (not a dude) Baugh
Kate Marino, 12, truly loves living in her rambling red farmhouse, affectionately known by everyone in her small Hudson Valley town as Big Red. But when her parents tell her that they are forced to sell Big Red because of money problems, Kate has a hard time accepting this stinging blow.

So, without doing her homework, a diorama about a scene from life, Kate goes to bed, clothes and all. Next day, when her teacher asks for her diorama, she promises to make two to make up for being unprepared. Wh
Katie Fitzgerald
This review also appears on my blog, Read-at-Home Mom.

In her second middle grade novel, Tara Altebrando introduces Kate Marino, a middle schooler who loves living in her family home, known as Big Red. When she learns that her parents' financial situation is going to require them to sell the house, and that they don't even know where they will be moving, she is devastated. Her sadness deepens when she learns that her dance class will be participating in a competition in June, and she may not be a
Feb 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kate's parents have been fighting a lot recently, so when they sit her down to talk, she thinks the worst has finally happened. Her parents are getting divorced. Instead, she hears the word "downsizing." Which to Kate just means that they can't afford to keep their farmhouse, "Big Red." Big Red is the only home that Kate has ever known and she really loves her old house. She knows all of its nooks and crannies. She knows what to do to "wake the wind chimes" hanging on the porch and that you have ...more
I was provided with a free copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Kate Marino loves her unusual home, with the high ceilings and the beams that run across them, even with the dead flies that they keep finding in her parents room. She loves her backyard and the stream that runs through it by the forest in the back. She also loves a square of blacktop that she calls the tennis court, where she and her friends play and ride their scooters. Oh, and don't forget her dance classes an
I found the idea of a girl documenting her childhood home in dioramas strangely compelling. It sounds like a great idea, a bit like a 3-D scrapbook. For Kate, leaving the home she has known her whole life is horrifying, especially when it means giving up her friends and a chance to be in a dance competition. Kate decides to try to delay the sale by making the house as unappealing as possible to prospective buyers. While I didn't approve of Kate's actions, I have to admire her creativity. I appre ...more
Maria Tag
May 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Abby Johnson
This book was fine. I like the concept - the idea of a girl saying goodbye to the house she's known all her life by making dioramas of each room is a poignant and sweet one. Kate's also dealing with her mom's depression and her parents' sense of failure in losing the house that they also loved so much. But it felt like a couple of different books jammed into one in a way that didn't quite work for me. There's the madcap plot of Kate trying to find ways to stink up her house, the poignant story o ...more
Julie Williams
Oct 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kate can't believe it when she finds out her parents are going to sell the only house she has ever known "Big Red". What about her best friends Stella and Naveen? What about dance? Kate does the only thing she can think of - sabotage. She makes the house smell and setsup load noisesduring the Open Houses but she gets caught. How can Kate handle this crisis?

So, much of this book is typical middle school crisis - changes in best friend statuses, issues with starting to like boys, mean girls. The s
Feb 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, a-owns, kids
My Life in Dioramas made me tear up more than once. It's an utterly relatable story about family and friendship and changes. I appreciated the realistic portrayal of financial difficulties and depression -- plenty of kids experience these challenges in their own lives, so it's good for them to be able to see these challenges in books, too.

Note: I received an ARC from the publisher.
Beautifully written, pitch-perfect middle grade! I loved Kate, the twelve-year-old protagonist of this story, and the schemes she comes up with to sabotage the sale of her beloved house, Big Red. The setting is fabulous, and I love the way Tara Altebrando depicts Kate's whole family, especially her parents, who are fully realized characters in their own right. The friendship dynamics are also great--they feel very rich and very real. This book is sweet, funny, and poignant. Kids will love it!
Apr 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
12 year old Kate's life is thrown a big monkey wrench when her parents decide to sell the only home she has know, rambley old Big Red. Very realistic relationships and reactions, dioramas of favorite memories of life in Big Red tie the book together effectively. This may be a sleeper - but well worth your time, for kids and adults alike.
Sarah Sammis
My Life in Dioramas by Tara Altebrando is about learning to cope with unwanted change. Kate Marino loves living in Big Red, her family's converted barn house but the downturn in the economy has knocked too many holes in the family budget and they have to sell the place in order to downsize.
Apr 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: art-crafts
Kate is having to deal with a number of changes in her family and with her friends, but then she finds out they must leave their family home and she refuses to accept that reality. A quiet middle grade novel about moving and moving on with likable characters, gentle humor, and a nice message about adapting to change.
Kary H.
I was surprised by just how much I liked this book. I went in to it thinking, "Meh" and finished it thinking, "Yes!" Tara Altebrando does a great job of dealing with family stressors, tween-age angst and emotions, friendship, crushes, etc.
Christie Burke
Mar 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nice character development, realistic kid issues, and an active way for the main character to work through her problems. I liked this book overall and would recommend for middle-grade girls who tend to be more contemplative.
Brenda Kahn
This middle grade, moving-household story features an engaging narrator - twelve-year-old Kate, caring but struggling artsy parents, and two best friends who conspire to help Kate save Big Red. This gentle story has a lot to offer.
Great Books
May 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ages-9-11
When Kate’s parents decide to sell “Big Red,” the old, rambling farmhouse where she has lived her entire life, she works on a plan with her friends to sabotage the sale while creating shoebox dioramas of every room in the house to preserve her memories.
Reviewer 20
Katherine Wilkins Bienkowski
It was okay; again, for a younger audience, so I just might be too old. I did want to live in the Big Red house, though, with my dogs and cat and person-family. I liked it better than _Battle of Darcy Lane_.
Amy Formanski Duffy
Hand this one to tweens looking for a light read about conflicts with friends, moving out of a childhood home and finding creative outlets. Could be good for a preteen book club but the writing is just so-so.
Jul 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Quick, sweet read with a lovable narrator and an adorable cast of well-rounded characters. 5 stars.
Feb 01, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Solid realistic fiction dealing with real middle school issues in a real but not fake way
Bibi Belford
Jul 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Nice. I can relate to leaving my house. Kids will also relate to Kate and her friend troubles, parent troubles and moving troubles.
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Way Home Looks Now
  • Completely Clementine (Clementine, #7)
  • Still a Work in Progress
  • Jessie Elliot Is a Big Chicken
  • A Summer of Sundays
  • The 14 Fibs of Gregory K.
  • Hooray for Anna Hibiscus!
  • Nate Expectations (Better Nate Than Ever, #3)
  • Honey
  • Doodlebug: A Novel in Doodles
  • The Epic Documentary of a Not-Yet-Epic Kid (Classroom, #1)
  • Genie Wishes
  • Etched in Clay: The Life of Dave, Enslaved Potter and Poet
  • Dory Dory Black Sheep
  • Dream On, Amber
  • Snow Lane
  • Finding Someplace
  • Extraordinary
See similar books…
Tara Altebrando is the author of numerous books for young adult and middle-grade readers. Her upcoming book, THE LEAVING (Bloomsbury), is a YA thriller that received a starred PW review and is a Junior Library Guild selection. Her other YA novels include ROOMIES, coauthored with Sara Zarr; Dreamland Social Club (A Kirkus Reviews Best Books for Teens), The Best Night of (Your) Pathetic Life, What H ...more