Elizabeth Varadan | The Children’s Book Review | October 6, 2015
Written by Holly Goldberg Sloan
Age Range: 10 and up
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Dial (2014 Reprint)
What to Expect: Quirky characters, unusual plot twists, a satisfying resolution to an initially tragic situation.
Willow Chance is adopted. Her parents love her intensely for who she is. In Kindergarten, tests confirm she is gifted. But when a teacher gives her class a standardized test the first week of middle school and Willow scores 100 percent, she is sent to the principal’s office for cheating. In turn, the principal assigns Willow to attend sessions with a behavioral counselor, Dell Duke, whose office is in a different set of buildings.
In the early pages, I wasn’t keen on this story. The principal’s easy assumption of cheating (despite records showing Willow was gifted) was jarring. Dell Duke’s counseling system and dislike of kids were hard to believe, considering his profession. To this reader, both seemed contrived in order for the rest of the story to unfold.
When Willow meets Mai Nguyen, whose younger brother, Quang-ha, attends sessions, they become friends. Then Willow’s parents are killed in an auto accident. Because Willow has no known relatives, she is assigned temporarily to Dell Duke while social agencies look for a foster situation. But Mai takes things into her own hands, and this is when the story takes a charming turn. I don’t want to give spoilers. I’ll just say that from this point on, I was hooked.
The characters of Mai, Quang-ha, and their mother, Pattie, who has a nail salon, are endearingly portrayed. Willow is always interesting, and the author does a good job of showing how misunderstood she is because of her genius view of life (which includes wry humor). Dell develops into a decent human being, and the series of events that bring this about are truly funny.
This book will appeal to middle grade readers who are dealing with loss or coping with being “different” in some way from their peers.
Add this book to your collection: Counting by 7s
About the Author
Holly Goldberg Sloan, the acclaimed author of I’ll Be There, has worked as an advertising copywriter and a writer and director of feature films. She lives in Santa Monica, California.
Counting by 7s, written by Holly Goldberg Sloan, was reviewed by Elizabeth Varadan. Discover more books like Counting by 7s by following along with our reviews and articles tagged with Middle Grade Books.