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Thursday, September 15, 2016

Blog Tour and MG Review: The Littlest Bigfoot

So while we're on the topic of hairy girls, did I ever tell you guys about the time I decided my eyebrows were too close together? Let's start out by saying I have very thick eyebrows. Some people absolutely enjoy that, but my personal preference is for them to be a little thinner. I pluck about half of them out, honestly, and they are still quite strong. I started plucking my eyebrows around eighth grade, which was around 2005. And let me tell you, trying to shape your eyebrows when you're going solely by what you see on TV... in 2005... does not work well. Might I point out Smallville?

Those are not eyebrows I'm ever going to have without possibly bleeding. But the worst was probably when I decided they were too close together, and plucked a TON of the hair at the front of both eyebrows. I probably made the gap between them a good half inch wider.

I looked very surprised for a very long time. #AwkwardMGMoment for reals.

And now, presented for the approval of the Midnight Society:

The Littlest Bigfoot by Jennifer Weiner

Published: Tuesday! Also known as September 13th, 2016th, from Simon and Schuster Children's Publishing, specifically the Aladdin division.
Genre: MG Fantasy
Binding: ARC
Page Count: 283 in my ARC, but the info inside says it'll be 304, and goodreads says 304 so the finished copy will probably have 304. I just like to tell you how many pages ARCs have because I think it's fun.
Part of a series? It says "1" on the spine, and the ending was somewhat open, so I hope for more! I really want more.
Got via: It was sent for me by Simon and Schuster Canada for this blog tour, and it had a really cool little sticker that I peeled off because it peeled off really easily, and that's so satisfying.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Alice Mayfair, twelve years old, slips through the world unseen and unnoticed. Ignored by her family and shipped off to her eighth boarding school, Alice would like a friend. And when she rescues Millie Maximus from drowning in a lake one day, she finds one.

But Millie is a Bigfoot, part of a clan who dwells deep in the woods. Most Bigfoots believe that people—No-Furs, as they call them—are dangerous, yet Millie is fascinated with the No-Fur world. She is convinced that humans will appreciate all the things about her that her Bigfoot tribe does not: her fearless nature, her lovely singing voice, and her desire to be a star.

Alice swears to protect Millie’s secret. But a league of Bigfoot hunters is on their trail, led by a lonely kid named Jeremy. And in order to survive, Alice and Millie have to put their trust in each other—and have faith in themselves—above all else.

Review: Guys, as a fat kid with few to no friends and, as discussed above, a fair amount of hair (thank you hormone disorder), I wish I had had this book growing up. I have like five pages of notes and basically no real complaints. I want to not-creepily give this to every ten and eleven and twelve year old girl I see, because this book? This book really gets it. This is cute, and funny, and deep, and wonderful, and I really, really loved it.

This post is already going to be so long, so let's start breaking this down, okay?

Plot Talk: Basically it's what it says in the summary, and that works really, really well. Tons of the book is about the two girls becoming friends, and I love that. There's so much care given to the friendship of these two, and how much they start to mean to each other. And while a lot of the book is about that, there's also the threat to the safety of Millie's home, and a tease at an underlying plot that makes me so excited at the idea that this will be a series. I want to know more about what happens immediately! You will see those books on here eventually if there are more.

Characters: The book rotates through third-person POV from Alice, Millie, and Jeremy, and it does it very well. Nobody hogs the spotlight, but it doesn't become repetitive by always having the same order in the rotation. I'll talk about each of them briefly, how's that?

I'll start with Alice. Alice is near and dear to my heart. She is a character tiny Laina would have related to so hard, and not-so-tiny Laina loves her just as much. She's tall and big, and constantly feels out of place because of her body. She's not very good at making friends, and she ends out being an outcast a lot. This girl. And my absolute favourite part is that the book never makes it out that she needs to change herself. Her body is good, and the book treats it as good, and strong, and not something she should be ashamed of. The only thing that's ever suggested being not a great thing is something she does, not something she is, and it's not even that it's exactly a bad thing about her, but rather a thing that she probably doesn't want to do, and an understandable thing because of everything that's happened to her. Oh, she's wonderful.

Millie is so precious. She's not as much a character I would have so intensely seen myself in as a kid, but she's great, too. She's brave, and wants to stand out so much, and I know there are kids out there who feel like they're too loud, or want too much that need Millie. And especially her struggle with being a Yare (Bigfoot), and maybe wanting to be different, but not being sure.

I even honestly liked Jeremy. I mean, the kid likes Steven Universe, so he gets bonus points, but I can definitely see kids relating to how he tries to deal with being average in a family of extraordinary people. The book is really great at showing us how he's misguided, not malevolent, and he apologizes when he realizes he's wrong. He also points out that someone was sexist at one point, and I'm super into middle grade boy characters boy characters going against sexism. That was a really nice touch.

Now, I bet you guys are expecting me to complain a bit that Alice is described as large, but sometimes doesn't really seem very fat on the cover/in a lot of the book. Well, she does describe herself as fat. And that doesn't happen a lot. Honestly, I'm not mad. The fact that she's mentioned to have gained weight, and the only person who might think that's a bad thing is her mother who is very critical and not meant to be a sympathetic character. How often do even chubby characters not only not lose weight, but gain weight, and it's okay? It's never treated as a bad thing that Alice might become larger as time goes on.

Yes, I would like more very fat characters in middle grade and young adult, but I still think this works well. Let's just try to be careful to recognize that Alice is probably more chubby, and generally tall and muscular, than a very fat character. I think she's a wonderful, chubby character. One who runs, and eats mostly vegetarian food, and doesn't lose weight! There's also room for characters who are larger than Alice, is all I'll really say.

One thing that really helps me not complain about that, is that there is actually another fat character in the book! Who is larger than Alice! You put more than one in, they don't all have to be the same size! What an idea, right? And that character, who is seen as a caring, talented adult, is probably at least three hundred or four hundred pounds, if you read between the lines in the narration and use some of the clues for context. She is very large, and she is a positive role model for Alice, and readers. That means so much.

When I debate this, I think about tiny Laina, and how I would have felt.

And I would have been so grateful for Alice.

Now, here's where I normally complain there are no non-straight/cisgender or disabled characters. Guess what though?

There are! A main character in Jeremy's narration uses a wheelchair. She talks about why, very frankly, and she's a little bitter about it, in a way that I think is realistic, but her entire character role is not to be "inspiring". There is a teacher who is non-binary, and uses the pronouns xe, hir, and hirs. There are other students who are stated to have two dads or two moms, and students who are MOGAI. These people don't get as much screen time as I'd like, but it's more inclusive than a lot of YA, even, I've read recently.

PG-13 stuff: The bullying could be hard on very young or sensitive readers. It's very realistic. Honestly, besides maybe the fear of like Bigfoot hunters coming after Millie and her family, I think that's about it.

Cons, complaints, bad stuff, etc.: I've got like two. I want the non-straight/non-cisgender characters to have more screen time, along with Jo. I want them featured more. Also, non-white characters. There could very well characters who were POC, but they weren't described well enough to actually know. So, like. Work on that, and we'll be great. These awesome things in your book, show them to me more next time!

Cover comments: This is so cute. I have it twice in my post, so obviously I really like it. It almost perfectly depicts the girls (Alice's hair should be redder, but that's about it), and it's so beautiful. Look at the tiny Millie! It's absolutely right for the book, and I think it will do well.

I'm going to mention that there will be a map, and illustrations in the finished book. I'm not sure how different from what they are in the ARC, but what we have is really cute, so I think it'll be cool. No points taken or given for that, because it wouldn't be fair, but I just wanted to mention it.

Conclusion: This was so good. There are adult humour moments that I'm not sure if kids will get, but made me snicker so hard, but not so many that it's pandering. The characters are awesome. The book has a wonderful anti-bullying message. I loved that the teachers and people who run the school are basically hipsters, but they're well-meaning ones. I love the message that public school isn't right for everyone - there's at least... probably six different kinds of schooling mentioned in the book, and none are better or worse, but it's more about finding the right fit. The Learning Center is initially seen by Alice as a little silly, perhaps, at first, but it's a safe place for Alice and all the other characters, and they are not seen as worse off for being there. The references are current, but things that are probably going to stick around for a while, and not overwhelming! That balance is so hard to get right, and this book does.

I really, really loved this book. I highly recommend it, and you will likely be seeing sequels when they happen on this blog. Four and a half roses, with points only taken off for the things I mentioned in my cons section.

Other notes:

- None of the websites mentioned in the book have cool things if you try to go to them. One is a random business thing, and one doesn't seem to be anything. That's a bummer! It would have been really cool to have stuff at them, like bonus content or something.

- The book mentions morning sickness and cramps when talking about healing herbs. I thought that was cool!

- I really, really want to check out some of her adult books now.

Okay, now that I've rambled for actual ever, go check out the other stops on the tour!

September 12th - Lost in a Great Book
September 13th - Cindy's Love of Books
September 14th - Brooklyn Berry Designs
September 15th - Me obviously! You're already here!
September 16th - It's Just My Life (not posted yet, obviously, so just linking to the site!

I think that's it! Thanks for stopping by!

Peace and cookies,