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Ann will sign copies of her middle grade novel, an NPR Best Book of 2018. The Ivy's children's book curator, Rona London, describes The Benefits of Being an Octopus as "poignant," saying, "With an estimated 15 million children living in poverty, we simply cannot overlook or marginalize the challenges facing these youngsters. I am overwhelmed by Braden's characters and how they bring to life—with dignity and honor—problems often ignored because the challenges are so large and persuasive."
Seventh-grader Zoey has her hands full as she takes care of her much younger siblings after school every day while her mom works her shift at the pizza parlor. Not that her mom seems to appreciate it. At least there’s Lenny, her mom’s boyfriend—they all get to live in his nice, clean trailer.
At school, Zoey tries to stay under the radar. Her only friend Fuchsia has her own issues, and since they’re in an entirely different world than the rich kids, it’s best if no one notices them.
Zoey thinks how much easier everything would be if she were an octopus: eight arms to do eight things at once. Incredible camouflage ability and steady, unblinking vision. Powerful protective defenses.
Unfortunately, she’s not totally invisible, and one of her teachers forces her to join the debate club. Even though Zoey resists participating, debate ultimately leads her to see things in a new way: her mom’s relationship with Lenny, Fuchsia’s situation, and her own place in this town of people who think they’re better than her. Can Zoey find the courage to speak up, even if it means risking the most stable home she’s ever had?
Ann Braden writes books about kids struggling to find their voice amid the realities of life. She founded GunSenseVT, a grassroots group focused on championing the common ground on the issue of guns in Vermont. She also founded the Local Love Brigade, which now has chapters all over the country sending love postcards to those who are facing hate.
TIME & DATE
Tuesday, May 21, 2019 - 4:30pm