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by Sylvia Liu

Pub Date: Aug. 3rd, 2021
ISBN: 978-1-338-66226-9
Publisher: Scholastic

A Florida girl with crippling shyness must find her voice.

Becca Wong Walker is assigned to work with two other students on a sixth grade science project. She dreads both the expected presentation and working with others: Their group seems so awkward, as it includes extremely shy bookworm Becca; Amelia Carlson, the talkative and confident new girl; and the class’s funny kid, Deion Williams. But bringing them together is their interest in Missy, the manatee who comes to Becca’s dock. To Becca, Missy has been her only friend for a long time—someone she can actually speak to without freezing up or feeling weird and alone. And now Missy has a new calf who is in great danger due to the speedboats and jet skis that run into these gentle creatures. Liu has created an inspiring story with excellent pacing centered on a budding activist finding her voice. Although the three main characters start out as common types, their project changes them. Navigating the dangerous environment of new friendships, Becca’s dread and fear express her palpable social anxiety on top of her worry for the manatees. Will she be strong enough to speak up to her classmates, the town council, and even her own father? Becca’s mother’s side of the family is cued as Chinese; other characters are minimally described.

The struggle to face one’s fears and stand up for one’s values creates a compelling story.

(author’s note) (Fiction. 8-12)