From acclaimed author Kate Messner comes the powerful story of a young girl with the courage to make her voice heard, set against the backdrop of a summertime mystery.
When Mia moves to Vermont the summer after seventh grade, she's recovering from the broken arm she got falling off a balance beam. And packed away in the moving boxes under her clothes and gymnastics trophies is a secret she'd rather forget.
Mia's change in scenery brings day camp, new friends, and time with her beloved grandmother. But Gram is convinced someone is trying to destroy her cricket farm. Is it sabotage or is Gram's thinking impaired from the stroke she suffered months ago? Mia and her friends set out to investigate, but can they uncover the truth in time to save Gram's farm? And will that discovery empower Mia to confront the secret she's been hiding--and find the courage she never knew she had?
In a compelling story rich with friendship, science, and summer fun, a girl finds her voice while navigating the joys and challenges of growing up.
Kate Messner is an award-winning author, TED 2012 speaker, and former middle school English teacher. Her books for kids include THE BRILLIANT FALL OF GIANNA Z.,SUGAR AND ICE, and EYE OF THE STORM (Walker/Bloomsbury Dec. 2010) the MARTY MCGUIRE series (Scholastic), SEA MONSTER'S FIRST DAY, and OVER AND UNDER THE SNOW (Chronicle, Books). Kate also wrote SPITFIRE and CHAMPLAIN AND THE SILENT ONE, both Lake Champlain historical novels published by North Country Books.
Kate lives with her family on Lake Champlain, where she loves to read, write, hike, swing on birch trees, and eat chocolate. She also hangs out in various places online. Visit Kate's website: http://www.katemessner.com
It is never too early to teach feminism to a child. I know this but this book certainly effectively executes that idea so well that I think it will absolutely convince people who’s still in doubt with it.
Did you know that only male crickets make noise? Our protagonist Mia sure didn’t know that.
But it got her: “wondering about all those quiet females. Was it that they couldn’t chirp at all, no matter what? Or were the boy crickets so loud that they never got the chance?”
Isn’t that a profound thought from our little heroine?
I was so proud of this smart young woman! Especially when later on it links to the passage where Mia angrily charged into their backyard garden at night to And she so aptly thought:
“The crickets were chirping. The males, anyway. Mia wanted to scream at all those quiet female crickets.
Seriously, 5 stars and a strong recommendation ALL THE WAY.
The fact that male crickets chirp while female crickets are silent provides an intriguing basis for a book on the #MeToo movement. It’s disappointing, then, that this clever premise receives a one-note execution. I know I am daring to find fault with a book about #MeToo but before I’m drummed out librarianship, note that my comments are on a book, not a movement.
The writing is excellent; Mia’s voice rings true and her anguish is heartfelt and relateable enough to encourage young women to speak up if they find themselves in a situation similar to Mia’s. For me, the novel’s problems stem from Messner’s simplistic approach to her characters: females are unfailingly good and males are unfailingly bad.
Three examples (there are many more but this post is already long enough): P.26 Why didn’t Mia enjoy maker spaces before now? At her Boston school “it was always full of eighth grade boys who didn’t look excited to share it.” P.86 Gram tells the story of female fireflies who signal to attract males they have no intention of mating with, then eat the males who respond to the signal. Messner’s next line: “All the moms applauded at that.” P.214 Even Mia’s devoted father falls short: Mia asks her mother to tell him about what’s happened to her because she doesn’t want to retell the story and “Dad wasn’t great about talking about things like that.”
Acclaimed children’s authors (Kate DiCamillo, Lois Lowry) don’t write down to young readers as Messner does in this novel. Themes are driven home with a sledgehammer as if middle graders won’t get them otherwise. I’ll order this for my library due to its timeliness, success in encouraging young women to speak up and fine writing. But we’ll order only one copy.
Mia has just moved back to Vermont from Boston. She and her parents want to be closer to her grandmother who suffered a stroke a few months ago. Mia is really excited to be able to help her grandmother with her cricket farm. Unfortunately, things seem to be going mysteriously wrong left and right at the farm. Mia's grandmother suspects that someone is trying to sabotage the farm so she will be forced to sell it, but so far, there is no way to prove her theory.
Per her mother, Mia has to pick two summer activities: one for her body and one for her brain. She decides to participate in Launch camp (a maker space for kids) and Warrior camp so she can learn the tricks behind one of her favorite tv shows. Warrior camp happens to be right beside a gymnastics facility. We learn that Mia was a great gymnast in Boston, but after breaking her arm and undergoing surgery, she hasn't wanted to compete again. It's obvious that something bad happened to her at her old gym other than breaking her arm, but it takes a while to learn that her former coach was very inappropriate with her.
After forming new friendships with girls and women who have also been the victims of sexual harassment or inappropriate touch, Mia finds her voice and finally confides in her mother. At the same time, these friends help her figure out who is the mysterious mishaps at the cricket farm. These friendships allow Mia to rediscover the joy in her life and regain a part of her old self.
When I first heard that Kate Messner's upcoming novel was about a cricket farm, I thought that was really strange. I have loved every book of hers that I've read, but I couldn't see myself feeling super enthusiastic about this one. We all know the old adage "don't judge a book by its cover;" my new philosophy is going to be don't judge a book based on its setting or plot. Messner uses female crickets as a symbol for women who are scared to be vocal when men are misogynistic or inappropriate with them. She delicately unravels Mia's suffering for the reader without making it too graphic for her intended middle-grade audience. This book is so important for young girls to read. I imagine that every woman has been the victim of some type of sexual harassment during her life. We would love to think that it doesn't happen to girls in elementary school, but it does. I can say that confidently from my first-hand experience. It happened to me in first grade; a few boys touched my butt on the playground. In fourth grade, a male classmate asked me if I was a virgin. I, of course, had no idea what that meant, but I knew that it was a question he shouldn't be asking me. Now, I don't think those boys were being sexual predators; looking back on it now, I think they were probably doing things that they had seen or heard older boys or men doing, but it made me feel dirty, even though I had done nothing wrong. It's important for young girls to know that they are not in the wrong in these situations. This book is also important for young boys because they need to know that there are lines that should never be crossed. Messner does an excellent job of sensitively teaching both those lessons.
Chirp needs to be in every elementary and middle school library, and I'm not just talking to librarians who have a robust budget. Buy this with your own money if you must; it's that important for our children to read.
This new middle grade novel by Kate Messner covers two relevant issues in one book and in such a comprehensive way. Mia begins the book as a girl who feels damaged and far from the brave, accomplished gymnast she was before her injury. As her past is revealed, the #me too movement is very much factor in her restoration. Part of that healing involves the ways Mia can help her grandmother market and improve the operation of her cricket farm. We learn many facts about raising/harvesting crickets and their value as a source of protein. Another highly relevant topic for our time. Included is the mystery of the sabotage efforts affecting the cricket farm and the reveal of what a perfect fit the title is. Would not be surprised to see this on the next Newbery short list.
Got the munchies? Are you, and your taste buds, feeling adventurous? Then join Mia and Chloe in their “Chirp Challenge”, where you can enjoy samples of barbecue, sea-salt garlic, and maple-roasted...crickets! Yes, crickets, freshly harvested from Mia’s grandmothers’ sustainable cricket farm! At least, it was sustainable until somebody started trying to sabotage everything her grandma, an entomologist, has worked so hard to maintain... This was an absolutely wonderful read! Mia is a lovable pre-teen girl, who used to be a “jump off the rocks” adventurer, ready to try new things and involved with her gymnastics team. Now, because she’s carrying the burden of a secret, that she just can’t bring herself to share, Mia has lost that sense of adventure. The author is adept at not revealing the secret, but hinting at it, until the latter part of the book. Meanwhile, Mia is making new friends in her Launch Camp and Warrior Camp, and they are all trying to come up with ideas to save the cricket farm. Slowly, she begins to open up and feel that she can trust again. Her family and friends are very supportive and loving. Mia’s father is an absolute hoot! I would recommend this for readers of all ages, because it has something for every one to enjoy! I guarantee the reader will learn more about crickets than they ever thought possible!
“Sometimes courage is quiet. Sometimes getting up in the morning and being you, is the bravest most defiant thing a woman can do.” I really wasn’t expecting this middle grade novel to be anything more than friends spending the summer having fun with a little bit of mystery mixed in. While it is friendship and family, it is much more. It is overcoming your own fears, getting back in the ring, and speaking up when things don’t feel quite right. I think this book is going to open up a lot of conversations. And in the era of #metoo it is needed.
3.5 - The summer after 7th grade Mia and her family move to Vermont to help her grandmother take care of her cricket farm. Mia is determined to help the farm thrive and figure out who might be sabotaging it. Meanwhile she’s also dealing with the fact that something inappropriate happened with her gymnastics coach back in Boston that she hasn’t told anyone about yet.
The grooming behavior of her old coach and how that impacted her was tough to read about. There were a couple great conversations throughout the book from different female characters talking about harassment that they’ve faced. I think it was all done sensitively and in a way that isn’t too graphic for younger readers.
However, I was not a fan of the plotline about solving the mystery of who was sabotaging the cricket farm. It just felt way too zany and I would get whiplash from the tone switching back and forth between those scenes and the more serious scenes about assault and harassment.
I wouldn’t discourage anyone from reading this. I think there’s a really valuable story in it even if I didn’t totally connect with the entire book.
12yo Mia has moved back to Vermont with her parents so they will be closer to her aging grandma. Mia has recently recovered from a broken arm and has spent the last several months watching television, so she is not thrilled that her parents are making her enroll in 2 different summer camps. Mia is excited to help her grandma at her cricket farm, but it seems that someone may be sabotaging? Can Mia and her new friend Clover (who is in both of her summer camps) solve the mystery and save the farm. Mia is healing both physically and emotionally; while she hasn't shared what happened, Mia was subjected to a gymnastics coach's inappropriate touching and contact and is living with the secret.
I loved the #metoo aspect - not only was Mia's story there, so were the stories of other women - framed for a middle school reader. The content is perfectly appropriate - the harassment in gymastics as well as an experience of her friend Clover are related sensitively. I also appreciated the mystery - it was fun to try to spot the clues and red herrings. Some fun cultural references to books and Broadway show tunes makes this so easy to recommend to 7th grade girls.
“Sometimes getting up in the morning and being you, no matter what’s happened to you and no matter what anybody says, is the bravest, most defiant thing a woman can do.” Loved this book so much. I had planned to read it over several evenings but ended up finishing it one sitting; I couldn't put it down! This book needs to be in every school library. I wish it had been in mine. (Also, I am now dying to try all the yummy-sounding cricket recipes mentioned in the book. Never thought I'd use "yummy" and "cricket" in the same sentence, but there you go.)
Chirp is a worthy addition to the strong lineup of middle-grade books about consent and sexual harassment. But despite how heavy that topic can be, this book’s vibrant summer spirit brings a much needed airiness to the plot. Add an engaging mystery, a fiesty grandma, heart-tugging friendships, summer camp, entrepreneurship, and crickets — and there’s much to love! If you enjoy grandparent stories or books set in summer, then you’ll enjoy Chirp.
Kate Messner has an uncanny sense of what kids need and how to reach them through books. When a book ends, and I'm sad to say goodbye to the characters, I know it was a good one! This is true with Chirp, a book that includes a cricket farm, an aging parent, and a girl carrying a serious secret.
I was a little biased toward this book because it takes place right near my hometown and also written by one of my favorite authors. But it lives up to the hype. Messner has a real knack for writing books that are really solidly middle school - not too mature/ya but not so elementary that middle schoolers who are ready for more complex themes and slightly more mature concepts are bored.
7th grader Mia moves back to Vermont with her family to be closer to her grandmother who recently had a stroke. Grandma owns a budding new business - a cricket farm - and Mia is determined to help her succeed. And to try to find out who might be sabotaging the farm. But Mia is also haunted by something that happened back at her old gymnastics studio, something she hasn't told anyone about, not even her parents or her new friends.
Highly recommended for middle grade realistic fiction and mystery fans, and those seeking the courage to be their authentic selves.
Kate Messner never fails to write stories I love. They are complex and joyful, entertaining and heartbreaking, like life! Chirp, in its many layers, celebrates that complexity by sharing a tale of one young girl, supported by mothers, female entrepreneurs, friends, and a grandmother who won't quit living her dream. Sometimes I do not want to tell the plot because I really want readers to experience the book without me telling them what it's about. So, only a brief few words about Chirp. I'd prefer you read it yourself! It's a mystery how Messner knits all the pieces together, but I'm so happy she does. Here are the parts needed in all of our lives: friends helping friends and family supporting each other. A varied group of friendly, cool, not cool, crooked, clever and joyful characters makes a wonderful book. "But nobody else got to say who she was going to be. Mia would decide that herself."
Mia’s life turned upside down a year ago when she broke her arm during a gymnastics routine. After her grandmother suffered a mild stroke, the family moves back to Vermont, where she lives. Gram farms crickets as an alternative food source, and Mia is eager to help out during the summer. But strange things begin to occur at the farm. Gram is certain that someone is sabotaging her operation. This is a family mystery combined with Mia’s fear and confusion of the icky friendliness of a former gymnastics coach.
This is a must-read for everyone who’s ever had their voice quieted, everyone who’s gotten an icky feeling from someone, everyone who’s struggled to speak up. Thank you Kate Messner for CHIRP. It’s going to inspire so many conversations! 🦗💚
Due to a truly horrible digital ARC, I stopped trying to read this one. I think it will be a good middle grades choice for those that like a come back story with heart and a little mystery. With Kate Messner being the author, it’s a safe bet that it will be!
Honest and courageous. Kate has written a story that is timely in its nature, and something I am so grateful is out in the middle grade world. What a profound story wrapped up in good hearted friendship and fun mystery as well. I can’t wait to share with students.
This is an important book about finding the courage to speak up even when you feel scared and unsure about what is happening. Kate Messner takes an important topic and weaves it into an interesting story that is appropriate for middle grade children.
Who is sabotaging Gram's cricket farm? Mia and her new friends Clover and Ana set out to find the answers in this mystery which is also about the #metoo movement. As Helen Reddy would sing, "I am woman, hear me roar."
Mia’s family is moving to Vermont at the end of her 7th grade year where she'll be closer to her aging grandmother who runs a cricket farm. Once an accomplished gymnast, Mia isn’t sure where her new interests lie now that she is healing from a balance beam injury (which required surgery on her arm). So she agrees to attend two summer camp opportunities in her new city — launch camp (a maker space for kids) and Warrior camp. At the maker space camp she makes a new set of friends and builds a team of people who rely on one another’s strengths. Mia’s big maker space project will hopefully boost her grandmother’s cricket farm by using robotic technology and social media hashtags. At the warrior camp, Mia must face her inner fears and take baby steps as she regains muscle strength and endurance.
As the maker space team works on their project, they soon discover someone is attempting to sabotage the cricket farm. This means a little dangerous undercover work for Mia in an attempt to uncover the culprit and prevent future damage. But as different people become potential suspects, it’s easy to jump to conclusions. In the meantime, Mia learns of the importance of opening up about uncomfortable experiences she’s had with an adult in her previous town. She learns that inappropriate touch and sexual harassment happen far more than we realize and that speaking out can be healing for yourself and helpful for others who may have experienced the same pain.
With the development of valuable friendships, learning how to communicate with parents, the inclusion of technology and social media, the mystery of sabotage, and deciding on whether to report an abuser, this book is very full and yet quite well-rounded. I was so pleased that it ended on a very happy and comforting note. And I just know it will be loved by so many middle graders who will relate to Mia’s arsenal of experiences, in one way or another. It would also make a wonderful read aloud, but be sure to order some edible crickets to share with listeners! My thanks to Netgalley and to Bloomsbury for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review. Chirp will be released tomorrow, so go out and pre-order your copy TODAY!
For more children's literature, middle grade literature, and YA literature reviews, feel free to visit my personal blog at The Miller Memo!
Kate Messner's new book combines a solid mystery with information about entomophagy and entrepreneurship. This is a perfect pick for kids who like to learn something while they read. The secret of Mia's past and the inappropriate relationship her former coach forced on her blends seamlessly into the story, and it is handled perfectly. Mia's broken arm removes her from his efforts to groom her before things get more physical. It's helpful for Mia, and young readers, to know they aren't alone, and Messner shows how other characters including other students and older women Mia admires dealt with similar issues. Highly recommended.
Izzy says: “Chirp is a book about so many more things than just a cricket farm its about standing up for what is right and speaking up. So many of the characters in this book show that and their resilience. For example Mia the (main character) finally tells her family about her gymnastic experience with one of her male coaches. They also show their reselience by standing up for what is right and what they believe in like the grams cricket farm for and exampls. I rate this book a 4.5/5, as I really enjoyed this book. “
What an excellent, fun, and powerful story! I love how the author addressed a serious issue like Me Too in a way that kids can understand and relate to, but also made this book so much fun at the same time. This book feels like Harriet the Spy meets Shark Tank plus American Ninja Warrior with a cricket farm, and I can’t wait to read this with my kids!