HomeBooks by AgeAges 9-12Counting by 7s, by Holly Goldberg Sloan | Book Review
Counting By 7s Cover

Counting by 7s, by Holly Goldberg Sloan | Book Review

Elizabeth Varadan | The Children’s Book Review | October 6, 2015

Counting By 7s CoverCounting by 7s

Written by Holly Goldberg Sloan

Age Range:  10 and up

Paperback: 384 pages

Publisher: Dial (2014 Reprint)

ISBN-13: 978-0142422861

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.


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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.

Visit: HollyGoldbergSloan.com

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 


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Elizabeth Varadan writes for children and adults. Her middle-grade mystery, Imogene and the Case of the Missing Pearls (published June 15, 2015), is set in Victorian London and she is currently working on Book Two. Varadan loves to read and write about the Victorian Era and blogs about the many things she uncovers in her research. Visit: <a href="http://elizabethvaradansfourthwish.blogspot.com">elizabethvaradansfourthwish.blogspot.com</a> and <a href="http://victorianscribbles.blogspot.com">victorianscribbles.blogspot.com</a>

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