Family Book Club: Introduction and Jinxed and Unleashed by Amy McCulloch
School is out! But with COVID still seriously affecting the country, most of us are staying in. For parents, this can mean a strain to fill up the hours that would usually be taken up by camps, vacations, and time with friends. For kids, this can mean a frustrating search for activities that keep you interested and engaged. As a literary organization, we find answers to these conundrums in what we know best—books! But we aren't simply suggesting a reading list. We've curated a list of picture book, middle grade, and young adult titles that are not only entertaining but fodder for larger discussion. To facilitate those discussions, we've prewritten questions that you can think about and activities that you can do as a family.
This will be an ongoing series, and each post will follow the format below.
We hope you enjoy!
Reading level: middle grade
Synopsis: Lacey Chu has always dreamed of working for Moncha Corp., a tech company that has revolutionized people's lives—and that Lacey's father, who disappeared when she was young, worked for. Moncha became famous after introducing bakus—replacement smart devices that can do everything an iPhone can but take the form of an animal. Lacey is already somewhat of a genius when it comes to bakus, fixing them for her family and friends who are old enough to purchase one. She's also tied to be the top student in her class. Because of this, she just knows she'll be accepted into the school of her dreams, a feeder school into the Moncha system. But then she isn't. Thoroughly disheartened, Lacey accepts that she'll have to stay at her current non-STEM school and purchase a level one baku, which is all she and her mom can afford.
Not long after, however, Lacey comes across what she thinks is a heap of high-tech but irreparable machinery—only to fix it up and realize it's a level three baku, a sleek black cat. She names him Jinx, and just like that, everything changes. Lacey is admitted into her dream school, she's chosen for an elite battle bot team within the school, and she even catches the eye of a cute older boy. But all of this good fortune can't distract her from the fact that Jinx doesn't act like other bakus—he doesn't act like a machine at all—and she's not the only one who's noticing.
Categories: action-adventure, STEM, feminism, multicultural
- The goal of Moncha Corp. is to make life easier with technology. What are some apps, websites, social media platforms, and other tech-related areas where you think you can do good for other people?
- At the end of the series, Lacey decides not to take the option given to her but to forge a new path. If you could do the same with your life—do anything you wanted regardless of obstacles—what would you choose?
- In the end, Lacey is only able to succeed because she relies on her friends for help. Who are people in your life who you may or may not currently rely on who you could talk to about your dreams and ambitions? What are areas where you could help your friends?
- Where do you see room for invention in your life? What doesn't currently exist that you think should?
- There are people Lacey encounters who don't believe she can be such a good mechanic because she's a girl. Have there been times when you've been judged because of your gender identity?
Activity: Lacey uses what she can find at her home to fix and invent. What all can you collect from your home and yard? What can you create from it? Take a look at the Rube Goldberg Machine website for inspiration (as well as lesson plans and videos)!