Member Reviews

This is a great book for anyone who is struggling to balance it all or dealing with any difficulties. I'll be recommending this to lots of kids and even adults.

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I was not able to get to this book before it was no longer available. I am so sorry for this. I am rating it three stars since I do have to provide a rating, but providing a neutral rating seems like the best option for the book and author.

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Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for giving me access to the free advanced digital copy of this book.

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NetGalley ARC Educator 550974

This is a book that should be in every library. It deals with dyscalcia which is when the brain reverses numbers instead of dyslexia where the brain reverses letters. It also delves into family dynamics and friendships. Sibling relationships are hard, through in the math curve all as well as being the new kid and we have this work of art. I loved everything about this book, including Snakespeare, Henri's pet snake.

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Henri Weldon's efforts to balance home life, school work, and soccer make up the heart of this relatable middle grade novel. Henrietta, called Henri, struggles to adapt to a public middle school after attending a private school to help with her learning disability. She befriends a group of foster siblings much to her sister's dismay and tries out for the soccer team despite her family's doubts of her ability to handle it on top of her school work. Increasing conflict with her sister and feeling a lack of support from her family leads Henri to attempt to juggle everything on her own which naturally leads to her making mistakes. The ups and downs of her relationships felt realistic and empathy-inducing. The relationships Henri develops with her science lab group provide an interesting side story. The connections Henri makes with the Morgans makes for the most interesting aspects of the story as she learns about Lily Morgan's bullying of her sister but care for her family. Her growing friendship with Vinnie as he tutors her in math and their common interest in animals was especially enjoyable as was her growing friendship with Ana which leads her to try out for soccer. I found the story quite compelling as I become invested in Henri's life and activities. The secondary characters added a great deal to the story with their various relationships with Henri and the ups and downs of those relationships. Henri's family feels very much like a realistic family with their conflicts and misunderstandings but willingness to support each other despite their disagreements. I thoroughly enjoyed this realistic tale of a middle schooler trying hard to 'figure it out'.

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This is an adorable story of a girl figuring out herself in a new space. Throughout the story Henri has difficulty with math and making friends. I found the characters to be interesting and realistic, particularly in the relationship between Henri and her sister. If you know or have a child with difficulties with math, this could be a great book for them. Overall, I would highly recommend this book.

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Henri Weldon is a middle schooler who is the new girl in school. She loves her snake “Snakespeare” and struggles to get along with her older sister. Henri also has trouble with math, so she goes to a special class to get intervention time and peer tutoring. The book follows her as she navigates her new school, friendships, and sibling drama.

I really liked the math teacher in this book. She is incredibly encouraging and really helps change Henri’s mindset from a fixed mindset around math to a growth mindset. I also appreciated how Henri learned that first impressions of people aren’t always correct. Her math tutor, Vinnie, is someone her sister encourages her to stay away from because he is “trouble”. But Henri learns to give people a chance and get to know them before making that judgement.

While it wasn’t intriguing for me as an adult, I think the intended audience will really appreciate this book and relate to it. It would be a great “window” or “mirror” book for kids to expose them to learning differences or encourage them with someone they can relate to.

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Henri has dyscalculia which makes her school life difficult. She goes back to mainstream school in hopes of being successful and doing normal things like playing soccer. It turns out to be quiet the challenge, especially since her bossy sister is one of her obstacles.

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I picked this up because of the subject matter. I'd never seen a book about dyscalculia before and I know I personally really could have used this book as a child. I hope this book is widely read in schools and helps educate teachers about dyscalculia and acalculia, as people don't seem to know much about math learning disabilities. And that causes a lot of undiagnosed children a lot of pain. Highly recommend.

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I received an uncorrected E-proof ARC of from NetGalley and HarperCollins Publishing in exchange for an honest review of “Figure It Out, Henri Weldon,” by Tanita S. Davis.

When I read the blurb for Davis’ newest book, I was amazed. Prior to reading that blurb, I had never heard of dyscalculia before. As I was reading, I had to put the book down at various points to ‘breathe’. At times, this ‘breathing space’ encompassed several days. I did this not because the book was badly written in any way, but because I started having flashbacks of instances that I lived through during my childhood, teenage years, and even adulthood.

Things are very different from when I was growing up. Back then, educators were not aware—at least not any educators that taught me—of dyscalculia. As I read Davis’ book, I saw myself in Henrietta Weldon. And I had to learn how to ‘figure it out’, but unlike the MC Henri, I was forced to figure it out on my own.

Anything with numbers (and directions) really screwed me up. The worst part was reading clocks which, during the 1980s, were completely old-fashioned—not digital. I remember the shame I felt about not being able to read a clock. In fact, it wasn’t until I was in high school that I could tell the time. I never told anyone about my problems; it was too shameful.

This book was brilliantly conceived. Although the author’s writing style is different from what I’m used to, the book’s conception more than made up for it all. The one thing that I completely disliked was that although the author discusses dyscalculia in the book blurb, the term is completely absent in the text. This is a real problem because if people don’t read the book blurb—and they often don’t—they won’t understand what Henri is really dealing with and that dyscalculia is an actual problem. It seems as if the author is treating dyscalculia in the same way as my teachers did: by ignoring it. The author missed a huge teaching moment. This is an important loss because by refusing to even name dyscalculia, young people today won’t be able to pinpoint the source of never ending frustration and, like myself, will have to “figure it out” on their own.

Of course, I never let this stop me from achieving a doctorate, and it didn’t stop the author from achieving as well. But naming the condition could have helped a lot of younger people and their teachers; they shouldn’t have to read a book blurb about it.

I liked this book and it would have been a godsend for it to have been published in the 1980s. It’s unfortunate, though, that the author didn’t address the condition by name in the book. If Davis had done this, I would have given this book 5 stars without hesitation.

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I absolutely adored this book. A really great MG story full of heart, with wonderful characters.

Thank you for the digital ARC. All opinions expressed are completely my own.

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Figure It Out, Henri Weldon is a super slice-of-life book featuring a highly relatable protagonist with dyscalculia. At its heart, this story is about family — finding it, understanding it, appreciating it, and loving it. But it’s also about a love for words and writing, figuring out sibling relationships, and enjoying pets (including a pet snake and a pet rat). I savored every single page of this one and would totally recommend it!

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Ultimately, this book disappointed. Davis set up a fairly typical middle grade story where the main character enters a new school facing a variety of challenges. I thought that Henri's dyscalculia would form a much bigger part of the plot than the heavy focus in the first few chapters presented. Instead, Davis shifted focus in Henri's various problems throughout the narrative which resulted in a lack of build to a climax and proper resolution. It felt unsatisfying, especially since Henri doesn't really ever "figure things out."

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I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley and am voluntarily posting a review. All opinions are my own.

Figure It Out, Henri Weldon is a sweet coming-of-age middle grade title about the various issues kids that age deal with, especially as Black kids and/or children with learning disabilities. Henri has dyscalculia, which makes math difficult for her, and a large plotline in the book is her frustration with it and figuring out various things related to numbers and how they work. While I don’t personally struggle with that disability, I found her struggles relatable, as I also am not particularly fond of math, and I love how she expressed the little ways things related to numbers and doing sums don’t make sense. Her tangent about how the appearance of American currency doesn’t make sense to their actual value is particularly insightful, and it definitely made me pause and think, “Yeah, that is weird.”

I also liked that she enjoyed writing, which further deepened my kinship with her. She expresses many deeply personal insights about the things she’s going through, from her ongoing struggle with math to her issues with her classmates to the tensions she has with her older sister. All of these issues are relatable to varying degrees to many kids, and will speak to them and show they’re not alone.

This is a cute book, and I’d recommend it to kids and their families who may be going through similar things.

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Figure It Out, Henri Weldon by Tanita S. Davis. HarperCollins Children’s Books, Katherine Tegen Books, 2023.
Thank you HarperCollins Children’s Books for providing an e-book copy through NetGalley.
Rating: 1-5 (5 being a starred review) 4
Genre: Realistic Fiction

What I Liked: It is refreshing to see a young Black protagonist go through normal and neurodivergent struggles in realistic fiction. Henri has dyscalculia, a learning disability that makes math challenging to process and understand. So when she (finally) transfers to a public school for the 7th grade, she thinks that math is going to be her only problem. Turns out that making new friends, meeting family expectations, and adverse sisterhood are also issues that she has to face, much to her confusion. Her overachieving mother and laid-back father don’t seem to get her at all, her sister grows more and more antagonistic each day, and a new group of kids who are labeled as “bad” turn out to be the opposite. Henri has to “figure out” all these moving parts in her new social and family life, all while not failing math on top of it. Henri herself is warm and charming, and the other characters bring their own unique voice and energy to the story. Watching her join the soccer team, develop a love for poetry, and learn how to juggle all of her activities is a treat for readers. Henri and her family are African-American, and the kids she meets are a mix of ethnicities.

What I Didn’t Like: The conflict resolution between Henri and her sister feels partly unresolved. Henri’s sister has been mean, rude, and abrasive toward Henri the entire story, but then she performs one act of kindness and all is forgiven. There needed to be a bigger or more emotional payoff between the two sisters, because right now the story feels unfinished as it is. This can also be said with Henri’s parents (though it’s not as drastic): The book ends with neither fully understanding how Henri feels, so readers are left hanging for emotional resolution.

Who Would I Recommend This To: Middle school students

Review Date: February 15, 2023

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This book was so cute. It was such an amazing plot . The character development was amazing and I became so engulfed in story

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Growing up I would've idolized a book like this one - one that normalized dyscalculia and neurodivergence struggles. There aren't enough middle-grade books about sensitive girls like Henri and I wish that this book would've been written while I was in middle school. Any young person who is neurodivergent, particularly those that struggle with math, will love reading about Henri's triumphs. Davis is able to write a story with numerous young adult voices and not have a single one sound forced or imaginary, but instead exactly like how kids talk. I've only ever come across one other book, My Thirteenth Winter, that discusses dyscalculia, so the fact that Davis makes this the focus of her book is something that I am eternally grateful for. Reading about a character whose brain works exactly like mine made me feel vindicated even as an adult.

Some of my favorite quotes:

"'Man, Henrietta, why you gotta always do everything the hard way?' Because. It was the only way her brain even sometimes worked to get the right answer."

"Dear Ms. Edana: I don't want to talk to math. Or have it talk to me. Thank you."

"Bus schedules were a torture made up by people who were never, ever late..."

"Henri really wished that Mom could understand how hard 'try' was when everyone was watching her - and judging."

"Why didn't they make it so money makes sense? I mean, why can't they, like, understand that there are people like me in the world, and this is hard?!"

"No matter what anybody said, things were fine. Everything was handled."

"This was the most Monday Friday, ever."

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This is a Middle Grade book. I really loved this book, and the main character made me think about my daughter. The main character of this book has ADHD and had trouble keeping up with things. I loved the message in this book, and the ending of this book was just everything. This book was about so much friendships, ADHD, and family which I loved so much. I was kindly provided an e-copy of this book by the publisher (HarperCollins US) or author (Tanita S. Davis) via NetGalley, so I can give an honest review about how I feel about this book. I want to send a big Thank you to them for that.

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This is a great read for any middle grader as they change and adjust. I wasn't exactly sure at the beginning why Henri was taking the math test and where it was going to lead. I liked that we see her struggle to fit in and find her place in this new normal. I think a little more information about her background would have been. But overall a good book about middle school struggles, friendships, and family.

Thanks NetGalley for this ARC!

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Excellent middle-grade reading and love that it has a learning disability as a core feature but not the main focus of the book. It is really about the family relationships and friendships of a young girl trying to fit into new situations, to the similarities of many middle schoolers. I think multiple students would relate to this book, it's already on my order list for the next purchase in my library!

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