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Book review: ‘Just Like Jackie’

Vermont author and educator Lindsey Stoddard’s debut novel for middle readers, ages 8-12, set in Vermont, is sure to be warmly received. The story, centered on family, how to find it and how to hold it together, is appealing on so many levels. From the very first chapters, Robinson, the feisty but capable young girl who has been keeping a rather large secret about her grandfather’s worsening Alzheimer’s disease, will steal your heart. A long-time middle school teacher, Stoddard wrote Just Like Jackie hoping to reach kids who are struggling with big feelings and tough situations. She believes they will identify with Robinson’s quick wit and her not-so-great behavior at school. Robinson, named for the great ballplayer Jackie Robinson, is always moving, fixing cars at her grandpa’s garage, boiling sap into maple syrup, or playing baseball. She has a tough-girl attitude but she is also sensitive toward and protective of her grandpa, and she does come to recognize the people who want to help care for her as her own family. With its lovely message of acceptance and family, this book already feels like a classic.
— Reviewed by Jenny Lyons of The Vermont Book Shop in Middlebury.

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