The Children’s Book Review | March 22, 2018
A heart-to-heart with Natalie from Tae Keller’s The Science of Breakable Things—an emotionally-charged new classic about the science of hope, love, and miracles!
The Children’s Book Review: What gets you out of bed in the morning?
Natalie: I wish you hadn’t asked that. I mean, no offense. I know it’s not your fault. It’s just…well, that’s kind of a touchy question in my family right now. My mom’s been having a hard time getting out of bed some days. She’s sick, or something, but it’s been hard. I’m trying to be understanding but I also don’t get it and I just want to drag her out of bed and…sorry, I got sidetracked.
That’s ok. I’m sorry your mom is having a hard time. I see you have a bag with you. Will you tell us what you keep inside of it?
Ugh, mostly homework. Pretty boring stuff. And my science notebook that Mr. Neely’s making us write in every day. I’m pretty sure I’m doing the assignments wrong, but don’t tell anyone.
Are you hungry right now? Can we fix you anything to eat? Maybe we could make you your favorite dish?
Let’s make dukk. It’s a chewy Korean treat. I can teach you how to make it.
I’d love that! Let’s make it when we’re done chatting.
Do you like to read?
Yeah, of course. Did you know my mom wrote a book? It’s a science book, about this really cool flower that’s kinda magical. She’s a botanist. Well, she was, at least. Before she got sick.
I did’t know that. It’s sounds lovely.
Do you have a favorite song?
Really anything Bon Jovi. Which I know is weird because he’s, like, super old. But my parents love him, and anytime they play his songs we all start dancing. It’s embarrassing, but fun, too.
Bon Jovi’s great! Dancing is great, too.
Are you a rule follower or rule breaker?
I’m a rule follower. Well, except that some rules need breaking.
When was the last time you felt embarrassed?
I feel embarrassed all the time. I hate that. I wish I could be more like my best friend Twig. She does embarrassing stuff all the time, but is never embarrassed.
If you weren’t answering the questions in this interview right now, what would you be doing?
I’m going over to Twig’s house after this. She just got this brand new board game about space koalas, and she’s dying to play it.
Do you have any secrets you would like to share with us before you go?
All I can say is that I’m really hoping for something. And hoping is kinda scary.
Written by Tae Keller
Publisher’s Synopsis: An emotionally-charged new classic about the science of hope, love, and miracles! Natalie’s uplifting story of using the scientific process to “save” her mother from depression is sure to take root in readers’ hearts!
How do you grow a miracle?
For the record, this is not the question Mr. Neely is looking for when he says everyone in class must answer an important question using the scientific process. But Natalie’s botanist mother is suffering from depression, so this is The Question that’s important to Natalie. When Mr. Neely suggests that she enter an egg drop competition, Natalie has hope.
Eggs are breakable. Hope is not.
Natalie has a secret plan for the prize money. She’s going to fly her mother to see the Cobalt Blue Orchids–flowers that survive against impossible odds. The magical flowers are sure to inspire her mother to love life again. As Natalie prepares for the competition, she will discover that talking about problems is like taking a plant out of a dark cupboard and giving it light.
An extraordinary debut about the coming-of-age moment when kids realize that parents are people, too. Think THE FOURTEENTH GOLDFISH meets THE THING ABOUT JELLYFISH.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers | 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-1524715663
About the Author
TAE KELLER grew up in Honolulu, Hawaii, where she wrote stories, ate spam musubis, and participated in her school’s egg drop competition. (She did not win.) After graduating from Bryn Mawr College, she moved to New York City to work in publishing, and now has a very stubborn Yorkie and a multitude of books as roommates. Visit her at TaeKeller.com, follow her on Twitter at @TaeKeller, and be sure to join her newsletter bit.ly/taekellernews.
This interview with Natalie, a character in Tae Keller’s The Science of Breakable Things, was conducted between Tae Keller and Bianca Schulze. For similar books and articles, follow along with our content tagged with Coming Of Age, Depression, Hope, Love, and Middle Grade Books.