I can’t say how many times I’ve wished for more contemporary books like Hilda van Stockum’s The Mitchells—books with big, Catholic families having fun, doing interesting things, loving one another fiercely, and extending the love they learn at home to their wider community. Specific, much? Maybe a little. But one can hope (and get up early to write that kind of book yourself...).
I think I clicked “Buy now” on My Family and Other Skaters, by Fiorella De Maria before I finished reading the description. Big Catholic family—check. Fun and adventures—check. Love at home and love for others—check and double check. Add to that the fact that the family in question is obsessed with figure skating, have a pet alpaca, and start an at-home cafe to feed the parents of their fellow skaters, and you’ve got the recipe for a story that fits right in with Noel Streatfeild and Hilda van Stockum. The first person narrator is Rosaria, the oldest daughter of a British accountant and an immigrant writer from “a sunny island where everyone grew up believing that the British wear bowler hats, drink Earl Grey tea out of little china teacups, and recite Wordsworth poems to each other.” The voice is casual and humorous, which makes it seem decidedly contemporary—I think my personal taste leans toward the classic feel of third person narration as in van Stockum and Streatfeild, but I’m certain there will be some readers (and probably many children) who prefer the immediacy and humor.
Much of My Family and Other Skaters takes place during Advent and Christmas, and revolves around the skating pantomime the children perform, making it a perfect choice for a family Advent readaloud.
For more Marvelous Middle Grade Monday recommendations, check out Always in the Middle!
Hi! I'm Faith. I blog about books and creativity, family and faith. Welcome!