Mia’s family moves back to Vermont to help her grandmother sell her cricket farm, but, her grandmother is not ready to sell. She wants to expand. But she is convinced someone is trying to sabotage her. Can Mia find out the truth–and be brave enough to speak out?
In her latest book, Kate Messner tackles yet another difficult issue facing young people today: sexual harassment. As always, Messner’s treatment is sensitive and age appropriate. Readers will not find graphic descriptions of assault here, even though the book is clearly inspired by the Larry Nassar case, as well as by the #MeToo movement. Rather, Messner allows a wide range of women and girls to voice the ways in which they have been harassed, bullied, and victimized by those who should have been protecting and supporting them. In so doing, Messner opens up an important conversation young people need to have and reminds girls that they are not alone.
Chirp, however, is more than an important message. It is a heartwarming story with a fun, quirky premise–saving a cricket farm by convincing a town they should eat bugs to be healthier and live a more sustainable life style. And it is full of a rich, diverse cast of characters who each bring a unique perspective to the tale. Readers will find themselves cheering on Mia and her friends as they band together to solve the mystery of the saboteur–inspired by their own favorite mystery novels–and spread the word of the cricket-eating lifestyle. It might even inspire some intrepid readers to try out crickets for themselves!
Kate Messner is one of my favorite middle grade authors writer today and I always await her latest releases with anticipation. She has a history of dealing with important topics from child homelessness to the heroin epidemic. She recognizes that young people are facing difficult moments in their own lives, and so she does not seek to protect them from a reality they already know. Instead, she acknowledges their reality and she offers understanding, empathy, and hope. Her books have surely been an invaluable help to many a reader who thought they were alone. I hope that we continue to see many more books from Messenger in the future.