Monday, May 6, 2024

It's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday with a review of Fortune Tellers by Lisa Greenwald

Fortune Tellers by Lisa Greenwald
  Katherine Tegen Books
Format:  E-ARC 
Number of pages:   240 pages
Publishing:   May 7th, 2024
Source:  Sparkpoint Studio 
via NetGalley 

"I want to be a fortune teller, like for my job one day, Nora said curled up tight in the corner of Bea's top bunk bed."

Nora, Bea and Millie were inseparable after they met on the first day of kindergarten at Shire School in Manhattan's Upper East Side.  In third grade, they began making Fortune Tellers with their Write Your Destiny markers, special markers that seemed to make their messages come magically true.  The trio shared sleepovers, skate parties, and celebrated every birthday together, until the day their friendship came to an end just before sixth grade.  

A rift formed when Bea and Nora, attended a classmates birthday party and Millie was excluded.  Following the birthday incident, the Pandemic began, and their cherished school closed, which led to them being separated.   Millie's father quit his job as the super at an apartment complex and found a new job managing cottages in the country.  Nora's parents divorced, leading to her and her sister Penelope living with their mom, seeing their dad only occasionally.  And Bea's family moved to a bigger house to support her Aunt Claire, who suffers from uncontrollable seizures and requires constant monitoring.  Both Bea and her twin, Danny assist their mom with keeping an eye on their aunt.

While cleaning out her desk and getting ready for the first day of a new school year, Bea discovers a fortune teller.  She thought she had discarded them all after their fight.  They made hundreds of them before, yet she's pretty sure she ripped all of hers to pieces.  Soon Nora and Millie also find fortune tellers, with messages of encouragement, or just the right words that they seem to need to hear.  Their fortunes used to be silly, but now the messages are serious, appearing in the least expected places.  Why is it that they suddenly reappeared so mysteriously after all these years?

Bea and Nora receive an unexpected surprise from their former teacher, Ms. Steinhaur, a box filled with fortune tellers.  With the gift is a letter informing them that the Shire School has had difficulties, with the lower grades having closed since the Pandemic and they're now trying to determine the future direction of the school.  Nora contacts Bea via email, leading to the girls having their first group chat in almost two years.  Bea discovers the school's urgent need for ambassadors and fundraising.  Motivated to help save their school, the trio reunite and develop a plan to hold a huge gathering of all the former students and alumni.   

I recall making Fortune Tellers in school, although I think we referred to them as Cootie Catchers.  If you constructed it properly, hidden inside you could write questions, answers or responses like yes, no, maybe and try again.  Our own version of a magic eight ball.  It was fun to reminisce about them while reading the book.  

Fortune Tellers delves into the themes of food insecurity and the effects of a family member's epilepsy on the whole family.  The story alternates among Nora, Bea and Millie, with an occasional flashback to the third and fourth grade.  Each girl is nervous about starting seventh grade and how everything seems to be changing.  They experience worries over popularity, boys, the status of their current friendships and unhappiness since drifting apart over a year ago.  The fortune tellers serve as a bit of magic reminding them of their unresolved argument and wish to reconcile.  There's valuable messaging about expressing feelings resolving conflicts, or simply forgiving each other.  Which is never too late to start.       
**A huge thank you to Spark Point Studio for the E-ARC via NetGalley**

I hope you'll check out all the other Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday posts at Greg Pattridge's blog HERE       


  1. I've an urge to make one of them again (if I can remember how!), they were fin. Sounds a great story, with a nice hook! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Funny how you and Greg reviewed the same book this week. It does sound like a fun premise--I can't remember what ours were called but they sure sounded like what you described! Thanks for the recommendation.

  3. My sisters used to drive me crazy with those "Cootie Catchers." I liked this story although it will probably appeal to girls more than boys. Happy MMGM!

  4. I remember making Cootie Catchers too. This book incorporates them in an interesting fashion while delving into some deep issues.

  5. It was fun to read both your and Greg's reviews. This sounds like such a good book. I have it on my TBR list. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  6. How fun that you picked up this book the same week as Greg! It sounds excellent, and I'm impressed by some of the difficult themes it pulls in, like supporting a family member with a chronic health condition. Thank you so much for the thoughtful review, Brenda, and enjoy your week!