Shine!

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 05 Nov 2019

Member Reviews

If you're at all familiar with middle grade fiction, you'll likely be able to predict the final scenes of this book within the first couple of chapters. This means that the value of this story is the lessons the characters read along the way. The final lessons are obvious. The lessons about people being more than they appear, more than your first impressions, are in some ways more important. Even these lessons are fairly heavy handed, but this is often the case with middle grade fiction. More importantly, the characters all have at least a little complexity. They make wrong decisions but find ways to make it up to the people they've wronged. They regret bad choices and resolve to do better. While I might have liked a slightly more complex ending, the one we get is reasonable. It's not a mind blowing read, but a decently enjoyable one.
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Shine! is another amazing book by Chris Grabenstein. I loved watching the character develop as she navigates throughout the story. This is a feel good book for middle grades.
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I want to hug this book! This was delightful. Piper is the sort of middle grade protagonist I adore - smart, quirky, and kind. I loved the group of friends she finds at Chumley, and the ways she discovers to be herself there. This would be perfect for a classroom read aloud, a book group, reading at home, classroom libraries and all the rest. Don't miss this one.
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SHINE! is an absolutely beautiful story about deciding who you want to be, kindness, and finding your own path. Piper Milly is the daughter of an aspiring musician who dreams of writing and producing his own musical but teaches middle school choir to make ends meet. After his a capella group wins a big competition, he is offered a newly vacated job at the fancy private school, Chumley Prep. As part of the deal, he gets free tuition for Piper, which he eagerly accepts.

Piper is not sure how she feels about going to this new school, but she is eager to make her father happy. After she arrives, she learns that she not only has a bully in another student, but also a wonderful group of like-minded friends. When a teacher challenges them to think of who they want to be- now, not just when they grow up- Piper begins to think carefully about who she does or doesn't want to be.

Along the way, Piper reiterates the value of doing the right thing, helping others, and of having friends and family. She also learns to empathize with her bully.

This story is really beautiful, and I would highly recommend for even younger middle grade readers. Piper is a fantastic character- and I really love that she was STEM oriented plus an all-around amazing person. The end of the story was beyond perfect, and I'll admit that I cried some happy tears. Pick up this book! You won't regret it.

Please note that I received an ARC. All opinions are my own.
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I was really looking forward to reading SHINE!, and it did not disappoint. I loved Piper, the sweet message (while still providing plenty of depth in plot and character).

I've been a big fan of Chris Grabenstein's work; I think SHINE! shows a new side to his writing. JJ Grabenstein clearly should have started writing long ago! Such a great book, one that gets it right on all levels: plot, character, setting, and theme.

I could see SHINE! being a great classroom read, at-home read for a family, and perfect for all ages. Highly recommend.
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Piper’s dad has the opportunity to teach in a private school and Piper gets a free education.  She needs to figure out how to fit in with a group of talented, wealthy and entitled students.  Her journey wasn’t too rough as she finds a squad with similar interest.  Piper still has some troubles navigating some friendship issues.  I love the she is a STEM girl and the overall message of kindness is obvious and valuable.
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Loved it! Hope this talended duo write more books together on Chumley Prep.

Lemoncello was my favorite series by Grabenstein, but this one is a strong contender. Will be re-reading it as a in-class novel for my 6th graders. Will be recommending it to others.
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I  received a free digital copy of this book from Netgalley for an honest review.

Honestly, I love all things by Chris Grabenstein. To hear he put out a book with his wife JJ? I was down with it. 

I enjoyed this sweet book. It's all about learning where you fit in at a new school while learning to be true to yourself!
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Great story about what it means to be a good student.   Each character has Talents and gifts that are unique to each person,  teacher will enjoy using this as a read aloud and will be able to challenge their own kids to think about they want to be when they grow up.  Great read aloud for elementary students.
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This book should be required reading for ALL middle school students. I cried at the end. I had a feeling that it was going to play out a certain way, and I’m SO glad I was right. This book is brilliant in every way. Not only does it showcase the power that one child has to make a difference, our MC, Piper, was into science and astronomy. I LOVE middle grades books with female characters that like science. We need more books like this. I found myself highlighting so many quotes that I can’t wait to add to my Reading Graffiti bulletin board when the book is released. I also plan to use this book on my Mock Newbery club, as I truly believe it should be in contention for the award in January.

I received an advance copy. All thoughts are my own.
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Shine! tells my favorite kind of middle grade story: coming of age and discovering who you are! We’re introduced to Piper who suddenly has to move from her public school to the preppy private school because her dad got a new job. We watch Piper face a series of growing pains as she tries to adjust to her new school including a popular bully named Ainsley who tries to thwart her at every turn. 

The drama only heightens when an announcement that an award will be given out for the student who excels the most. We’re left to wonder just who might win as Piper continuously has to choose between winning and her friends again and again. 

Shine! is funny and charming, and the space theme is amazing! The story weaving is absolutely perfect, and I feel that it hits right on the head of the suggested age range. 

Loved: I absolutely loved how kind Piper is. In a  generation that was a little obsessed with the mean girls movement, the fact that Piper is anything but a mean girl is refreshing. Even in the moments that she may seem a little selfish, I think it is something that comes with such big emotions and disappointments and is totally understandable for that age range. 

I also loved the little smidge of a glimpse Piper gets into Ainsley’s maybe not so perfect life. 

Disliked: Ugh!!! Ainsley stayed a mean girl in the end? Understandable, but I was hoping for some growth from her character. However, it does reflect the fact that sometimes people just don’t grow. 

I would totally gift/recommend this book for any middle school aged reader or anyone who loves stories of girls who are kind and keep aiming for the moon. 

I would like to thank NetGalley, the publisher, and the authors for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
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I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I loved this book SO MUCH! It was a light, quick read - so many grade school kiddos could be encouraged to read it. I love how it placed an emphasis on kindness over performance. I can’t wait to read it to my kids!
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E ARC provided by Netgalley



Piper Milly and her father live on the east coast, where her father teaches music at a local middle school in order to give her more stability than his dream job of writing Broadway musicals, since her mother died when she was three. Piper is interested in space and is a big fan of the scientist and personality Nellie Dumont Frisse, and she's trying to decide who she wants to be as a person. When her father takes a better paying job at Chumley Prep, where her cello prodigy mother excelled back in the day, Piper feels even more pressure to make something of herself. She is glad to walk a dog for a neighbor, but when the school announces the Excelsior competition, her new friends Tim, Siraj, Emily and Kwame (who dub themselves the Hibbleflitts) help her try to ace the science fair, talent show, and other showcases of awesomeness so that she can live up to her mother's legacy. Her nemesis is Ainsley, who is bound and determined to win the award, even if it means disqualifying Piper's entries on technicalities. When the award is announced, Piper finds that the criteria depended more on being kind than on any academic or extracurricular activity.

Strengths: This has engaging characters, a simple plot, and a nice message. I can see this being used in a classroom, as a follow up to Palacio's Wonder. I especially appreciated that while Piper wasn't thrilled about starting a new school in the middle of the year, she realized it was a good opportunity that would make her father happy, and she didn't complain. 
Weaknesses: It seems unlikely that a private school would offer a better salary than a public one, but East Coast private schools are something I just don't understand. 
What I really think: This would be a fantastic choice for elementary students who want to read about middle school and is a great treatise on kindness. I'm just not sure how well it would go over with my middle school students.
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Everybody can find their own way to Shine, this is the message of this encouraging and empowering new book by the Chris and J.J. Grabenstein.  Piper feels that this does not apply to her, especially when her dad gets a job at a prestigious prep school and brings her along.  Despite her insecurity she makes some wonderful friends and with their help finds her own way to discovering who she wants to be, how special she really is.  This is an empowering story for anyone who is having trouble discovering where they fit and how they can shine.
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Piper's dad accepts a job at a private school filled with children of the wealthy, and although not wanting to move schools mid-year, Piper supports her dad and arrives at her new school armed with a good attitude and positive outlook.  She quickly finds friends with other students, but also lands in the cross hairs of the popular and talented Ainsely who sees Piper as competition and a stumbling block on her path to winning everything.  When the school's founders offer an opportunity to win the mysterious and new Excelsior Award, Piper feels she has no chance to win while Ainsley figures she has already capture the prize.  

Piper's character is one of a very good girl; the one who helps others without being asked, always assumes the best in people, and able to keep her positive attitude when treated unfairly, yet not overly "good" so as to be annoying.  This character the Grabensteins have created is one who you would want to be friends with and want to be like.  A wonderful story that promotes kindness toward others, a helpful attitude, and being the best "you" possible.  I hope to see this book on my state reading award lists, along with future collaborative efforts from the Grabensteins!
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This is a great story about having faith in yourself even when you don't think you fit in. It's also a great story about making the best out of a less than ideal situation. It was a quick and easy read that will appeal to many readers.
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Great story with a great message. Quick read. Predictable, at least for an adult. I really enjoyed the characters. Would have liked to know what happened to her mother other than she died (me being nosey). I would have also liked to see that Piper's friendship from her previous school continued. We don't really know that. Otherwise, its a good story which has a good lesson. One we all need to be reminded of now and then.
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This book is plucky and uplifting and a bunch of fun. Nice pacing for young readers. Humor and fun don't overwhelm the serious stuff, but add to the depth of the story. I really loved it!
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Piper is in for a big change.  Some middle schoolers would jump at the chance to attend prestigious Chumley Prep.  For Piper, it is another opportunity to remind her of what she doesn't do well.  She isn't competitive, she isn't musical, and she keeps getting distracted by others' problems.  Will she be able to find her own talents and start to shine?
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Shine! is an excellent book for students to read. This is a wonderful story highlighting the importance of being kind. With a wonderful moral and delightful vignettes, this is a perfect book for all students, classes, and book groups to use as starting point for a discussion on kindness.
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