Monday, October 3, 2016

MMGM: Save Me A Seat

Today's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday pick:

Save me a Seat,
by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan
Save Me A Seat

Written by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan
(Note:  I couldn't find a webite for Gita, but you can follow her on Twitter @GitaVarad1 )
Cover illustration by Mark Elliott
Scholastic, 2016
Ages 8-12, reading level 4.8,  Lexile 780
240 pages, 31,200 words

Fitting In, Friendships, Diversity, Disability

Most people in America cannot pronounce my name.
        On the first day at my new school, my teacher, Mrs. Beam, is brave enough to try. "Sur-yan-yay-nay," she says, her eyebrows twitching as she attempts to sound it out.
       "Sur-ee-ah-neh-RI-ya-nan," I say slowly.
       She tries again, but it is no better.
       "I'm going to have to work on that," she says with a laugh.
       I laugh too.
       Suryanarayanan is my surname. My first name is Ravi. It's pronounced rah-VEE, with a soft rah and a strong VEE. In Sanskrit, it means "the sun." In America, people call me RAH-vee, with the stress on the first syllable. That doesn't mean anything.

Save Me A Seat was a guaranteed read because I love Sarah's Pie series and I am an incurable Indiaphile. Predictably, I couldn't put it down, but when my 20-yr old son asked where "that book with the lunch trays" had gone and even my husband was reading it in his spare time, I knew Save Me A Seat was priceless.

Ravi and Joe's voices are so believable and their relationships with their parents so authentic that readers are immediately drawn into their shoes and even adults are right back in those awkward middle school years. The message is gentle but persistent: Ask not a saint of his cast, ask of his knowledge or don't judge a book by its cover.

We often think we know how a new situation will turn out, but people can and do surprise us. Save Me A Seat is sweet and bittersweet, bursting some childhood illusions, but ultimately filling the gap with a rosy hope for the future.

Read it and recommend it to someone today.


1. I love the double author interview from School Library Journal.

2. Sarah has written plenty of other amazing books. I most recommend Pie, cover by Mark Elliott and So B. It, cover by Anna Palma.

Reviewed by Joanne
Reviewed by Jasmine

3. For a book with a similar Indian-American vibe, I recommend the lovely and lighthearted Lowji Discovers America,by Candace Fleming, cover art by Tim Jessell  and one of my all-time favorites, The Grand Plan to Fix Everything, by Uma Krishnaswami, illustrated by Abigail Halpin.

4. Other MMGM bloggers recommend Mission Mumbai, by Mahtab Narsimhan, Cover by Kelley McMorris, and Chloe in India, by Kate Darnton, cover art by Elena and Anna Balbusso.

Lowji Discovers America,
 by Candace Fleming
The Grand Plan To Fix Everything,
by Uma Krishnaswami

Reviewed by Karen
Reviewed by Jess

Check out all the recommended titles for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday for October 3, 2016 available on Shannon Messenger's Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe.

Feel free to leave your MG recommendations in the comments. Thanks!


  1. I thoroughly enjoyed this one, too. Thanks for reminding me why!

  2. Glad to see you liked this. I have it on my to read pile and it's almost on the top. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about it.

    1. Motivation to read more? Sounds good to me. Thanks for reading.

  3. Sounds like a book I'd enjoy reading with its many themes. It love hopeful stories about kids overcoming difficulties. Having a big name that is hard to pronounce would certainly bring attention. Will have to check out this diverse read.

    1. It's a quick and easy read, but very appealing. Thanks.

  4. Great review. This one sounds like a must read. I love the cover--so much fun! :)

    1. I've always loved Sarah's books, and truthfully, I thought Gita's parts were even better. Hope you like it too.

  5. I'm an Indiaphile too. This sounds so good. I especially love the voice in the short excerpt you shared. Thanks for recommending it!

    1. We loved every minute of the two weeks we spent in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. I hope to speak a little Hindi by our next visit. Thanks for sharing!

  6. I love the opening of this, makes me want to read it for sure. Thanks for your review!

    1. The writing is so genuine throughout. Let us know what you think. Thanks.

  7. I read and loved both Pie and So B. It. This book sounds like fun and that's certainly a great opening line. I'm impressed that both your husband and 20-yr-old son wanted to read it too!

    1. They mostly stick to audiobooks, though I strategically leave good reads lying around: and sometimes it works. Though honestly, this time it was an accidental encounter.

  8. This has been popping up on my radar lately. I think it's a sign I need to read it!

    1. funny how that happens. I'd love to hear what you think of it.

  9. Thanks for telling me about this. I hadn't heard of it. It sounds like a really good book. I will check it out.

    1. You're welcome. I am always learning about great new books on your blog. It feels good to reciprocate. Thanks for reading.


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