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The Mealworm Diaries
By author: Anna Kerz
Selling Points: "Science projects, trauma, behavioral problems"
Publisher: Orca Book Publishers
Pub Date: Apr/01/2009
Pages: 160
Fiction Ages 9-12
Price:  $9.95
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"What're we gonna investigate?" Aaron said.
"You might want to investigate the art of listening," Mr. Collins said. "The rest of the class will study mealworms."
There were snickers. If Aaron heard, he didn't seem to care; he kept moving. His legs jiggled. He tapped his pencil on his desk. He hummed. His head bopped from side to side as if he was hearing music.
Weird kid, Jeremy thought.

Mealworms are small creatures that live in dark secret places. Jeremy is a bit like that when he leaves his home in rural Nova Scotia and moves to Toronto with his mother. Lots of things keep him from enjoying his new life, but the worst is his science partner, Aaron, who is more annoying than sand in a bathing suit. Jeremy is also burdened by the secret he carries about the motorcycle accident that injured him and killed his father. Although Jeremy is haunted by his past, he starts to feel at home in Toronto when he realizes he has some skills he can share with his classmates. And when his mealworm project yields some surprising results, Jeremy is finally able to talk about his part in the fatal accident.
Canadian Children's Book News - July 1, 2010
"Sensitively written…Highly recommend[ed]."
NMRLS Youth Services Book Review - December 1, 2009
"There's a lot of boy-appeal here…Themes of grief and loss, friendship, identity, and acceptance are all present and balanced against each other; no particular theme is superimposed too obviously over the others…A worthwhile book for kids who are grieving, moving, or even struggling to deal with an annoying classmate."
Victoria Times-Colonist - November 13, 2009
"The characters are multi-dimensional as they struggle not only to be cool, but nice. This is a satisfying read, and a good choice for younger students as they learn to get along with the other students in their class."
A Patchwork of Books blog - June 15, 2009
"Kerz does a wonderful job of connecting a mealworm's simple life with a child's incredibly complicated one, and she does so in a manner that appears effortless...A short and sweet novel about friendship, love, loss, and insects, Kerz has integrated a whole bunch of themes into one marvelous one about discovery."
Southwestern Ohio Young Adult Materials Review Group - June 10, 2009
"A heartwarming story of friendship and kindness...A worthy read for public and school libraries."
Once Upon a Bookshelf blog - April 22, 2009
"I devoured this book, and enjoyed every second of it...[I] was impressed that (even though heavier topics were covered) it was such a light, easy and entertaining read."
Booklist - April 15, 2009
"Kerz effectively conveys the insular social dynamics of a grade-school classroom and presents winning portraits of Jeremy and his understanding family and teacher. Readers will enjoy this quiet story as they absorb its simple but timeless message about the importance of kindness."
The Bookworm - April 1, 2009
"A wonderful, sensitive story...[the] characters extend understanding even to those who have not personally felt this hurt."
Resource Links - April 1, 2009
"Kerz has produced a sympathetic character in Jeremy, troubled by his self-imposed guilt over the death of his father...The social implications of Jeremy's secrets are staged realistically; the interactions at home, in the classroom, and on the playground ring true."
Quill & Quire - April 1, 2009
"Aaron's ADHD-type-behavioural problems are described with such accuracy that he jumps right off the page...There is real, raw talent here, evident in the character of Aaron, and in the depiction of classroom life."
Kirkus Reviews - March 15, 2009
"This moving first novel deftly weaves...serious issues into a realistic depiction of an ordinary boy moving forward despite his loss and doing the right thing by his troubled classmate."
CM Magazine - February 20, 2009
"A finely crafted blend of humour, drama, and suspense. The measured and compelling revelation of Jeremy’s dark secret is well balanced by scenes from his science and gym classes as well as the development of his relationship with Milly. The plot has some nice, realistic surprises and a satisfying as well as uplifting conclusion. Highly Recommended."


Silver Birch Award nominee, short-listed  CA  2010
SYRCA Diamond Willow Award nominee, short-listed  CA  2010
Resource Links "The Year's Best", commended  CA  2009
OLA Best Bets, commended  CA  2009
Hackmatack Children's Choice Award nominee, short-listed  CA  2010
CCBC Best Books, commended  CA  2010
Bank Street College of Education Best Children's Books of the Year [starred], commended  US  2010
Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Award nominee, short-listed  CA  2010
Rocky Mountain Book Award nominee, short-listed  CA  2012

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