If you're reading this, likely you once had a teacher who changed your life. Minnie McClary Speaks Her Mind celebrates one of those teachers, as well as the girl who changes the most as a result.
Minnie is a shy girl who's just moved to Mojave. All her family members have changed in the wake of her father being laid off--especially her uncle, recently returned from the Iraq war. When new teacher Miss Marks takes over their sixth-grade classroom, she immediately attracts and scares Minnie with the way she teaches and the questions she asks. As tensions mount from a group of parents working to oust Miss Marks, as well as escalating bullying and racism, Minnie finds herself torn between her need to act in the face of injustice and her fear of being embarrassed. She realizes she must figure out the answers to some of Miss Marks's questions and say them out loud.
Hobbs's (Defiance) clear writing is ideally suited for middle-grade readers of varied reading levels. She illuminates adult matters without being patronizing and handles middle-school issues with compassion. Though the ending may feel a little pat, Hobbs skillfully maintains several different story lines and allows readers to experience the full range of pressures that Minnie is feeling. Ultimately, the moment in the book when the title comes true could well inspire the shy kid in every reader--and maybe plant the seeds for a few future life-changing teachers, too. --Stephanie Anderson, readers' advisor at Darien Library and blogger