Meena Meets Her Match
Author: Karla Manternach
Illustrator: Rayner Alencar
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Genre: Middle grade fiction
Is it a race? A contest? A competition? If so, count Meena in! This spunky girl is packed with energy and color and an ambitious spirit that wants to win. She loves colors so much she’s sure to pack in a good variety into her meals every day (obviously sprinkles are more effective than vegetables), and collects shiny treasures (out of recycling bins) to upcycle. Her free-spirited attitude and that rainbow keep her going!
Lately Meena’s life isn’t so packed with color. Her best friend Sofia just stopped playing with her, and things are feeling a bit gray like the muddy winter thaw outside. On top of that, odd things start happening to Meena—her teacher punishes her for something she doesn’t remember doing. Her arms start disobeying her. One morning, she doesn’t feel colorful at all, and a bit later she wakes up in a hospital. After she returns home, all the adults in her life start spying on her and won’t leave her alone.
The quirky black and white illustrations in this story feel like they were pulled from an action-packed animated film, and keep up with the explosively punchy pace of the story. Meena Meets Her Match is a creative and positive story about the moment Meena is diagnosed with epilepsy, making it a fantastically important read for friends, classmates, or siblings of kiddos who experience seizures—or those kiddos themselves. The tale beautifully explores family relationships, including the one Meena has with her little sister Rosie and her cousin Eli, and celebrates free-spirited creativity and the power of friendship when life turns tough.
Readers filled with inventive creativity will find inspiration in this punchy middle grade debut with such a loveable main character that sets it well on its way to being pleaded into a series! Readers will want to see more of Meena! Middle grade teachers will want to make sure this story with timely topics gets added to their classroom library.
Thank you to the author (who is from my home state of Wisconsin-which is probably why she writes so accurately about muddy winter thaws!) and NetGalley for an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. And it is honestly fabulous!