Save Me a Seat
Release Date: May 10, 2016
Buy the Book: Amazon, IndieBound
Winner of a 2016 NAPPA Award!
A NEW FRIEND COULD BE SITTING RIGHT NEXT TO YOU.
Joe and Ravi might be from very different places, but they’re both stuck in the same place: SCHOOL.
Ravi’s family just moved to America from India, and he’s finding it pretty hard to figure out where he fits in.
Joe and Ravi don’t– think they have anything in common – but soon enough they have a common enemy (the biggest bully in their class) and a common mission: to take control of their lives over the course of a single crazy week.
SAVE ME A SEAT is on the master list for TEN STATE AWARDS!!!!
Maryland BLACK-EYED SUSAN AWARD, Illinois BLUE STEM AWARD, Pennsylvania KEYSTONE STATE READING AWARD, Virginia YOUNG READERS CHOICE AWARD, Florida SUNSHINE STATE AWARD, Tennessee Volunteer State Award, Colorado CHILDREN'S BOOK AWARD and Vermont DOROTHY CANFIELD FISHER AWARD. HOORAY FOR STATE AWARDS!!!!
SAVE ME A SEAT is the 2017 choice for KIDS READING ACROSS RHODE ISLAND. The Governor of RI just declared MAY 13th, SAVE ME A SEAT DAY. How cool is THAT????
Here’s what reviewers have to say about SAVE ME A SEAT…
“…Veteran Weeks pairs witnewcomer Varadarajan for this tale told in Ravi’s and Joe’s alternating first-person narrations. Varadarajan’s voice offers an authenticity and liveliness that perfectly pairs with Weeks’ realistic, quietly poignant style. Using the daily school-lunch schedule as a structural device, the authors bring alive a humdrum, ordinary routine, making it crackle with emotion and humor. Glossaries of Hindi and American terms and two recipes round out the book. A novel treatment of a familiar situation delivered with fizz and aplomb”
—Kirkus, starred review
“…The voices are distinctive and engaging, and Weeks and Varadarajan celebrate the small victories that make elementary school bearable.
“…I was immediately pulled into the characters and the interplay of perspectives. Two hours later I was celebrating the newfound understanding between Ravi and Joe. The book explores issues of diversity, culture, assumptions and parenting styles…”
—Superintendent of Princeton Public Schools
“Wow! Love Ravi and Joe!”
—John Schu, Ambassador for School Libraries
AND THIS WONDERFUL RECOMMENDATION FROM AN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL LIBRARIAN…
Genre: Realistic Fiction
What did you like about the book? Over the course of five school days and 49 short chapters, told in the alternating voices of Joe and Ravi (pronounce Rah-VEE), Save Me a Seat paints the vividly authentic portraits of two boys who must navigate their way through the typical landmines of fifth grade. Ravi is new to the school (“fresh off the boat” in his words), trying desperately to both make a good impression on his teacher and fit in with his classmates. Not only that, but he is doing his best to honor the traditions of his Indian family. Joe, big and lumbering (and with an auditory processing disorder that makes school difficult for him), is worried about the class bully and whether his new teacher will understand him. On top of this, his best friends have moved and he worries how he will make it through the year without them.
As might be predicted, an unlikely friendship develops between Joe and Ravi. But not before they must both deal with bullying, parents who don’t fully understand them, school lunches, and all the other challenges a new school year brings.
Told with empathy and humor by veteran writer Sarah Weeks and first-time author Gita Varadarajan, Save Me a Seat should be a priority purchase for librarians, especially school librarians. Recommended as a read-aloud for its unerring ability to allow the listener to walk in someone else’s shoes.
Bonus: The inclusion of a “bi-lingual” glossary aids readers in understanding Joe’s and Ravi’s worlds. Weeks does not disappoint her food-loving fans by including a recipe for apple crisp while Varadarajan will certainly gain fans with her recipe for naan khatais.
Anything you didn’t like about it? No. This is a close to a perfect book.
To whom would you recommend this book? Finally a contemporary realistic fiction book about the friendship between boys! With super-short chapters (often 2-3 pages long), this would be a great recommendation for reluctant readers. The story and writing, however, have enough heft for more advanced readers as well.
Where would you shelve it? Middle grade chapter books.
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes!
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Nancy Riemer Kellner, Peaslee Elementary School Library, Northborough, MA
Date of review: 2/15/2016
Are you looking for IDEAS for projects you can do with your students related to SAVE ME A SEAT?
Miss Sanzari and her 5th graders in North Haven, CT came up with some great ideas…. "Reading the book so early in the year inspired the students to participate in the class project that the characters in the book did on Friday. Each student in my class brought in an item and a notecard and we followed the same rules as the characters!"
Here’s what some of the notecards said:
“Head over wheels” –a student who loved skateboarding and brought his board
“Playing soccer with your feet is one thing, playing with your heart is another” a student with a love for soccer who brought a trophy
“I stick out” a student who is unique brought in a glue stick
Interview with the authors
What kind of middle grade students were you? What did you like to read?
Sarah Weeks: I was the youngest of three. My older brother and sister were excellent students, excelling at math and science in particular. I was a good student too, but my strongest subjects were English, music, and drama. I played piano and viola in the school orchestra and was in many school plays. Most of all, I loved to read and write. I remember reading My Side of the Mountain in sixth grade and To Kill a Mockingbird and Lord of the Flies in seventh grade—all three of which remain among my favorite books today.