Cover Image: How to Become a Planet

How to Become a Planet

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Member Reviews

I really enjoyed reading this book and how it deals with depression. Pluto is such an amazing character and I loved reading through her different days. I also enjoyed learning about Fallon and how Pluto's feelings for her developed. This was such a great for and I think it is perfect for readers ages 10-13.
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I didn’t know what depression was when I was 13. I didn’t have a depression diagnosis at that time and wouldn’t have it when I spiraled a year and a half later into bad days and really bad days. I wouldn’t have it when I was 19 and those bad days led to isolation and pushing people away and I wouldn’t have at 21 when the bad days started to get better, but I still wasn’t the happy, funny, and outgoing person I had been at 18. I wouldn’t get the diagnosis until I was 23 and I was asking a therapist to help fix me. A year later and sometimes I still think I can find a way to be that funny person again.
Finding this book makes my heart ache with sadness, happiness, and understanding. How To Become A Planet gave me a new understanding not just for my own battle with depression, but a way to understand the ones who support us and surround us. I wanted to squeeze Pluto throughout the entire book and make her see that she isn’t alone. I wanted to thank her for showing me that I am not alone either.
All of the characters in HTBAP are complex and established in an incredible way. I have not encountered a middle-grade novel quite like this where every character is easy to relate to and understand. The complexity is there, and each character feels as fleshed out as the main characters, as real as them. I also enjoyed that Pluto and her friends felt like 13-year-olds. Dealing with huge topics like depression, anxiety, and identity can be tough and I expected the characters to read older, but they didn’t, they read like the age they are portrayed as and that makes it so much easier a book to recommend to middle graders.
One theme that I enjoyed throughout the novel was the theme of support. Support is extremely important in every person’s life and you can never have too many people on your side. Melleby explores not only the benefit of having a lot of support but the benefit of the right support. Melleby discusses how to support those around you when they struggle and the importance of the role of commination in support systems.
I loved this book from start to finish and would recommend it to every middle grader, parent of a middle grader, and any person who struggles with depression, anxiety, or identity. It is a beautifully written novel that will grasp your heart and hug your soul.
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Set on a Jersey Shore boardwalk where Pluto lives with her mom. It is the summer before eighth grade, but but to be promoted, Pluto needs to make up 34 days of seventh grade work she missed at the end of the year, so she now has a tutor.  That is just one thing affecting Pluto.  Best friend Meredith has stepped away and found new friends. Dad has moved to NYC, has a new girlfriend, and he wants Pluto to spend the summer with him and see a therapist. Mom runs a pizzeria that has been in her family for year, but Pluto feels the new first ever manager is bossy. This is just the “short list”, and Pluto is diagnosed with depression. When Fallon moves to the seaside town, a new dimension is added. Great feeling of the boardwalk with a pizzeria just steps from the ocean, the amusement park and the arcade. This is a well written book about finding the courage to express yourself without exploding or tuning out. It is not heavy handed, and I felt it was a gentle presentation of depression and lgbt. Definitely recommended.
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Pluto knows a thing or two (and more) about astronomy, but she’s not quite sure who she is anymore. In Nicole Melleby’s absorbing and heartfelt HOW TO BECOME A PLANET (5/25), twelve-year-old Pluto struggles with her recent diagnosis of depression and anxiety. A summer usually filled with stars, pizza, and boardwalk fun is now a time to make up missed school work and attend therapy sessions. Pluto just wants to go back to “normal” and fix the rift between her and her mother, close the distance between old friends, and enjoy her visits to the planetarium. @nicolemelleby writes of mental health with such compassion and dignity—it is impossible not to feel deeply for Pluto. I hung on every heartbreaking word and appreciated the candidness of her reality. The Jersey Shore is a character in and of itself and is host to some of my favorite, memorable scenes between Pluto and Fallon—their blossoming friendship is so pure and heartwarming. They compliment each other so well and I just adored their voices so much. A stellar @jrlibraryguild Gold Standard Selection,
HOW TO BECOME A PLANET is a wholly affecting and completely unforgettable journey of hope, help, and love.
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Pluto is a seventh grader diagnosed with depression and anxiety. Her illness has caused her to miss a lot of school so she is using the summer to hopefully get back on track.  She lives with her mom on the Jersey shore where her mom runs the family pizzeria.  Nicole Melleby does an excellent job of presenting the problems a depressed adolescent encounters on top of normal teenage issues,  In addition to mental health issues, the book touches on gender identity, sexuality, and divorce.  As a teacher I think this is an excellent book for both students and faculty members to read.  Examining these topics from the viewpoint of middle schoolers gave me a new outlook and perhaps increased my understanding.  Thanks to NetGalley and Algonquin Young Readers for this ARC in exchange for this review.
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Heartbreaking, gorgeous, summery, perfect -- I read it in one sitting and cried. A marvel. Nicole Melleby continues to solidify her place as one of the great writers of queer contemporary middle grade.
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An honest and so realistic look at a middle grade account of depression. A read that focuses on the kid's depression, rather than an older relative. And some very gentle, sweet queer exploration!
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I was lucky enough to be accepted for an eARC of How To Become a Planet by @nicolemelleby and I can’t begin to express how happy and grateful I am for that. This book was terrific from beginning to end. The story was heartfelt, the character dynamics & characters themselves were relatable and enjoyable to read about, and the novel as a whole was just so engrossing. I read it in a few hours and I just could not put it down. The book just does so much right & i loves the mental health representation. I have not found a ton of middle grade books with depression and anxiety rep and am so happy this book includes both. Every book of Nicole’s I’ve read has been fantastic and I can’t wait to read more of her work in the future. How to Become a Planet comes out in May and I hope come springtime you all will be itching to get your hands on this new middle grade release. I know I will! 
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
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In general, I thought this book was very unique. It deals with a topic I haven't seen many books in this age range tackle. This day and age now more than ever mental health and depression are relevant topics of discussion amongst young people. It was a bit hard for me however, to read Pluto's heavy moments of anger. While I think it's an appropriate book for middle grade readers to read I do believe it should be read and discussed and not just a leisure book. Parents or educators should allow this book to lead a discussion about depression and mental health.
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A very timely and evocative read. The book deals well with serious issues in a very sensitive and appropriate way. It was interesting viewing mental health from this viewpoint.
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I was drawn to this book because the main character's name in Pluto and I'm a "Pluto Forever" type of person. I am so happy to have had the opportunity to read this book. I think it's going to be a wonderful book for kids and adults alike. Depression can often feel lonely and I think this story will show us all that we aren't alone - something that everyone needs to know. Beautiful execution, emotional and important topics, relatable characters. Excellent book! 

Thank you NetGalley and Algonquin Young Readers for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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Melleby's warm novel unflinchingly depicts the experience of a child going through depression and anxiety. Pluto can't control her body or mind, and it was tough to watch her difficult time, but I think this will be a great book for so many children. Both kids with connection to mental health issues and kids who may understand better what it feels like to have this.
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Nicole Melleby's How to Become a Planet follows the journey of Pluto, a girl diagnosed with depression. Pluto has missed the majority of the school year, her friends, her hobbies...and now, she might lose living with her mom. Her dad wants Pluto to live with him, and Pluto is determined for this not to happen. With the help of a new friend, Pluto comes up with a list to help her stay with her mom.

This book is such a upper-elementary and middle-school appropriate look at severe depression. This is one of the first MG books I have read that explored the protagonist having depression and not an older sibling or parent. The way Nicole Melleby wrote Pluto and her depression was absolutely breathtaking. 

Who should read this book: parents, ages 10+, teachers, and anyone who works with children.

5/5 stars!
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Nicole Melleby’s book always provide young readers with insightful and moving stories that don’t shy away from discussions of mental health and sexuality. How to Become a Planet is no different. This title will engage and move readers for its honest and age-appropriate presentation of depression and anxiety. Highly recommended for all students.
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Thanks for the opportunity to review this young readers’ book. It was okay. Here are my thoughts: 

Pros: I like the theme of Pluto, astronomy, and the planet as a symbol. Accurate and effective depiction of depression and anxiety, as well as reactions to it. 

Cons: I didn’t care for the Fallon storyline. There was enough going on without intro of this character (would’ve been a good separate book though to dive into different set of issues attentively) but I see the whole point of why it was included. I didn’t like the constant “my shooting star” because it sounds stilted and ridiculous. 

Other than minor qualms, I really have to agree with other reviews that say that this book is quite interesting. I don’t think I ever had anyone in my middle grade years try to understand me as much as Pluto’s support system does — I read a lot and never came across any books covering content like this either. So, really, I agree that this is a good resource for dealing with this very real sensation without being cheesy about it. You aren’t handing a kid a book about “your body and it’s changes” but instead a narrative in which a character’s experiences can resonate in different ways. 

Recommended for library collections.
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This book was devastatingly evocative. It felt good to get to know Pluto and feel confused with her - I was constantly torn between wanting to be her, her friend, or her mom. I like how this book reminded me that it's okay for worlds in books to be as untidy and unresolved as real life.
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Pluto has just been diagnosed with depression and wants to show her mom she can be the old Pluto, so she won't have to go live with her dad.

This was a lovely and moving story that will give young readers an understanding of the importance of accepting yourself as you are, while also working on things that are hard and sometimes impossible.

The only thing that bothered me was the inclusion of outing. It was not dramatic and was done considering Pluto's safety, but I still felt it was inappropriate. One could argue it demonstrates to readers that outing is not okay, but I still did not vibe with that.
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Melleby has produced an utterly beautiful piece of fiction, and I cannot wait to get my hands on a physical copy in the new year. Pluto is a well-crafted, smart child who is dealing with the eruption of mental health, and I don't know that I've found a middle-grade character who I relate to so much, from her fascination with space to her struggles in being her "old self" as her family wishes she could/would be. Melleby uses visuals and perfect descriptions of the emotions and sensations that go into things like panic attacks and mood swings to paint a heartbreakingly real portrait of growing up. Will absolutely be recommending to a lot of customers and staff members.
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This is a great book for middle grade kids and older. As a teacher, I see many kids struggle with anxiety and depression and this book deals with those issues in a very realistic way.  This book really fits in modern times and explores issues many kids are facing or questioning. Have some tissues around.
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I received an advance reader copy of this book to read in exchange for an honest review via netgalley and the publishers.

How to become a Planet is a heartfelt, tender book about a young girl called Pluto who has been diagnosed with depression. Pluto's world has been turned upside down by this diagnosis and she has missed much of her year in school because of it as well as loose her friends and passion for hobbies and interests. Pluto feels there is something wrong with her and doesn't understand what is happening to her.

I really enjoyed this book and it most certainly tugged at my emotions as a parent and as a sufferer of depression. The author handled this subject with compassion, gentleness and tenderness in a delicate and understandable way for children and did an amazing job of it!
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