Monday, August 22, 2011

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Crunch by Leslie Connor

About The Book: Dewey Marriss is stuck in the middle of a crunch. He never guessed that the gas pumps would run dry the same week he promised to manage the family's bicycle-repair business. Suddenly everyone needs a bike. And nobody wants to wait. Meanwhile, the crunch has stranded Dewey's parents far up north with an empty fuel tank and no way home. It's up to Dewey and his older sister, Lil, to look after their younger siblings and run the bike shop all on their own. Each day Dewey and his siblings feel their parents' absence more and more. The Marriss Bike Barn is busier than ever. And just when he is starting to feel crunched himself, Dewey discovers that bike parts are missing from the shop. He's sure he knows who's responsible—or does he? Will exposing the thief only make more trouble for Dewey and his siblings? -Goodreads

First Line: I saw it like this: A single worker at some faraway oil refinery with his head tilted down, peering into a pipe, waiting for one more drop that never came.

Awesome Character Quote: "For clever people, the world does not stand still." and "Going back isn't going backward. Not if it's the only way to keep going 
forward." -Mr. Bocci (87)

What Others Are Saying: "This is going to sound bad, but Connor is one of the very few hope-infused middle grade authors I can stand to read. I think that’s because I believe in every word she writes. At this point, she’s poised to catch on big with the kids, but you have to get them to discover her first. I found that my children’s bookgroup went nuts for Waiting for Normal when they read it for themselves. I can’t wait to lob Crunch at their noggins next. A book you shouldn’t miss. " --Elizabeth Bird Library School Journal

Connor keeps things moving merrily along...readers will enjoy going along for the (brisk) ride. Characters are colorful but believable, dialogue crisp and amusing. The New England setting is attractively realized....the whole family is so engaging. Charming and original.~ -Kirkus (starred)

"Crunch follows what I think is a good formula for middle grade fiction (maybe for any fiction): put your characters in a crunch, a hard place. Squeeze them a little, and make it even harder. Then, let them figure out how to solve/resolve their own problems and live happily ever after. I definitely recommend Crunch, especially since it’s both boy and girl-friendly." -Semicolon Book Reviews

What I Thought: What happens when you take a handful of quirky characters, drop them in a setting that is close to reality and fold in a mystery to solve? Crunch. As others have stated Connor has zeroed in on the middle school voice. I think the idea of running out of gas is something kids are concerned about when they begin learning about ou limited resources. Dewey is not the oldest but he does have the knack for the business. I especially liked the mechanics of bicycles and the problem solving that goes into keeping the shop open and getting to the bottom of the mystery.

Awards/Lists:  2011 Cybil Award Finalist, Kirkus Best Books of 2010
About The Author: Leslie Connor
Agent: Jennnie Dunham with Dunham Literary Inc.
Publisher: Harper Collins

Who:  I live in the Connecticut woods with my husband and three children. (Well, the kids are getting big and they all drive cars now so they come and go a lot these days.) We keep our bird feeders full, do a little gardening and stack a lot of firewood. I hike the trails near my home almost every morning.  Then I make a pot of tea and get to work. Usually, my loyal Writing Dogs are right by my side. (Sometimes I even borrow dogs from my neighbors. You can’t have enough dogs.)
      I love making artisan pizzas and pots of soup and my favorite treat is dark chocolate. I also love to ride my bike down to the diner to meet my friends for breakfast and more tea. (Hmm...that’s a lot of eating, isn’t it?)
Why:  As a kid, my family had house rules about remembering to turn off lights and not letting the water run. But my first real awareness of environmental issues probably came in third grade when I celebrated Arbor Day with my class. In the years that followed I learned that there are simple daily practices we should engage in to conserve the Earth's natural resources. Part of my research for Crunch was watching the film, Who Killed the Electric Car? For me, it was an important movie, and a profoundly sad one.

When:  At first, I was interested in children’s books from an illustrator’s point of view. But the writing part surprised me ~ came up from behind and tapped me on the shoulder. I realized that my head and heart were very full of stories and that I should pay attention! My ideas come from everyday life, and I write for readers of all ages.

Be sure to check out all the other Marvelous Middle Grade Monday in my sidebar!


  1. I looove Mr. Bocci's comment about going back - you made my day. Thanks!

  2. Oh, I love this book. I remember reading this a while back. Good choice for MMGM. I love the environmental theme, too. And enjoyed learning more about Leslie Connor. Thanks! I've linked to you in my own MMGM post today. Check it out.

  3. Sounds like a fun read. And I love how you listed her agent too so we'd know if our book is similar.

  4. I loved this book, but it also made me very glad that I ride a bike to work every day!

  5. I love the quote going back as the only way to keep going forward. It reminds me of a time several years ago when it felt to me that I wasn't making any progress toward my dreams, and actually felt like I was slipping backwards. Then one day I had an "ah ha" moment while driving a very winding mountain road. I realized that I wasn't going backwards at all. I was going forwards while going backwards through the U-turns of life.

  6. Hi Pam! What a pleasure to stumble upon your terrific blog. Well, you and your readers have given me a big old boost as I wrangle my next novel into shape. (Heard any shouts of, "Behave! I said, behave!" coming from the Connecticut woods?) Thanks again and all best, Leslie Connor

  7. This is an awesome book! I loved every page of it. There's just something about this book that kept me reading and reading.


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