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Monday, October 2, 2017

MG Review: Little Bigfoot, Big City

Little Bigfoot, Big City by Jennifer Weiner

Published: October 31st, 2017 by Aladdin which is a division of Simon and Schuster
Genre: MG Fantasy
Binding: ARC
Page Count: My ARC has 317 but goodreads says it'll have 336 so go with that.
Part of a series? This is the second book in the Littlest Bigfoot series. You can read my review of that here. I actually went looking for information this time instead of just wondering, and according to the author's website, it will be a trilogy. This review will likely have some spoilers for the first book.
Got via: It was sent to me by the publisher for review consideration.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): Twelve-year-old Alice Mayfair has a secret. She’s not human. But who—or what—is she? While Alice goes in search of her past, her best friend Millie Maximus, a tiny Bigfoot with a big voice, prepares for her future. Together they plan to sneak off to New York City, where Millie hopes to audition for The Next Stage, the TV show she’s sure will rocket her to stardom and free her from the suffocating expectations of her tribe.

Meanwhile Jeremy Bigelow’s Bigfoot research has put him on the radar of a shadowy government organization led by a mysterious man named Trip Carruthers. The Bigfoots have something, a chemical so powerful and dangerous that the government will do anything to obtain it. And Jeremy is tasked with securing it once and for all.

In an unexpected twist of fate, Jeremy, Alice, and Millie find themselves facing off at a crossroads. But in order to determine where they’re going, they have to first figure out where they come from—and draw the line between what is good, what is evil, and what it means to be a hero.

Review: While I didn't love this one as much as I loved the first book, I still really enjoyed it and I'm looking forward to reading the conclusion of the series when it comes out. This series has such a cool premise, and this is a great continuation of that. It dives a lot more into the underlying subplot that was hinted at in the background, with the shadowy government organization stuff. (And isn't that one of the most fun phrases in certain media? Welcome to Night Vale uses a line like that now and then, and it has such atmosphere to it.) Which leads us pretty well into...

Plot Talk: Like I said, this continues the plot from the first book and delves a lot more into it. It answers a lot of the questions raised in the first, and raises a few more of its own. I kept reading like fifty pages at a time, realizing I should take more notes, and then not actually doing it because it was pulling me in too much. There's a bit more focus on the plot in this one, with the kids doing a lot of detective work and Alice especially trying to learn about herself and her history, and it's really exciting. I think kids would have a lot of fun with this.

Characters: One thing I enjoyed about this is our main characters don't always make the best choices, or act in the best ways, but they don't seem out of character. Particularly, both Alice and Millie make some unkind choices towards each other, but they don't get into territory where they're truly nasty or meaning to hurt each other. They're both just young girls not sure what they're doing, with both of them kind of new at being friends, and they make mistakes, but they acknowledge those mistakes and talk about them, and eventually apologize. It's a very healthy representation of friendship.

I continue to love Alice. Young!Laina would have adored her. She just speaks to me so much, and I know there's a little girl out there who thinks her body is too big or hairy or ugly and I hope she gets to read a book like this where the main character has not lost an ounce of weight, but she has become confident in herself and has learned to appreciate herself. I think the point of the book is more about the plot in this one than the message of acceptance, and I did miss that some, but I'm also kind of okay with a chubby character getting to have adventures and stories not revolving around her weight.

Millie is still precious, and I adored the time taken to have her connect with her mother and go into her mother's backstory a little more. I honestly did still even like Jeremy. He's dealing with the consequences of his actions in the first book, and I'm actually looking forward to seeing him grow and learn a little bit more confidence.

PG-13 stuff: Some of the action could get a little scary for younger or more sensitive readers. Alice almost gets kidnapped, and Millie spends a fair bit of time overwhelmed by New York and upset and readers who deal with sensory overload might find that upsetting, but they also might identify with her, so, your mileage may vary and all that.

Cons, complaints, bad stuff, etc.: I think maybe Jeremy's friend Jo having surgery to help her walk again and talking about anything being worth it to walk could border on problematic. I don't think it becomes a miracle cure or anything, as it's mentioned that she would have to have several surgeries and it'd be a long journey, but I'm going to link to this post by Disability in Kidlit and say that it raised red flags for me, at least as something I should bring up. There's also a brief discussion of person-first language that I'd like to see someone who uses a wheelchair talk about.

There's also a lot less focus on Alice's school, and two of the characters I really liked in the first book don't show up at all. I really missed them, especially the nonbinary teacher Terry. And beyond a mention of the school accepting students who are queer, there's not much for that kind of representation. I was disappointed by that.

And last, I think perhaps it lacks in rep of POC characters. Spoilers but important to mention - one of the only POC characters, the only black character as far as I know (and one of the main fat adult characters) might be one of the bad guys. It's not entirely clear due to the nature of the character/plot, so I'm hoping it turns out well, but that troubled me.

Cover comments: I would hang a poster of this. It is absolutely gorgeous, with all the soft pinky-purple and the lights, and look at Alice and Millie! I actually think Alice looks more accurate this time. She looks a little more chubby and larger overall, especially her legs. I also think it goes really well with the first cover.

Conclusion: This does a lot of things I like, despite having a few problems, and it's a lot of fun. Really glad I got to read it and I'm excited to read the next one. There aren't ever enough main characters who aren't thin, especially when the book is actually positive about those character and doesn't say they should be ashamed of how they look. Having a basis of that plus a fun adventure and a cool world is great. Overall, I'm giving this four roses out of five.

Other notes:

- Kind of random, but I really enjoy seeing kids use cellphones in positive ways in media. Lucia and I watched a movie recently where they used cell phones as flashlights and taking photos to store clues (it was a mystery) and this book has some of that. I think that works so much better than ignoring that they exist completely.

And that's it! Peace and cookies,

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