Figure It Out, Henri Weldon (Hardcover)
Tanita S. Davis, author of Partly Cloudy and Serena Says, has written another funny, warm story featuring middle school and family life—all about the complex calculations it takes for everyone to balance the equations of their lives and what it takes to be part of a team while handling a learning disability. This middle grade novel is perfect for fans of From the Desk of Zoe Washington and A Good Kind of Trouble.
Seventh grader Henrietta Weldon gets to switch schools—finally! She’ll be “mainstreaming” into public school, leaving her special education school behind. She can’t wait for her new schedule, new friends, and new classes.
Henri’s dyscalculia, a learning disability that makes math challenging to process and understand, is what she expects to give her problems. What she doesn’t expect is a family feud with her sister over her new friends, joining the girls’ soccer team, and discovering poetry. Henri’s tutor and new friend, Vinnie, reminds her to take it slow. One problem at a time.
If Henri Weldon has twenty-four hours in a day, and she has two siblings who dislike her four new friends, two hours of soccer practice, seven hours of classes, and three hours of homework . . . she has:
A. No free time
B. No idea how to make everyone happy
C. No time to figure it out, Henri Weldon!
Tanita S. Davis is the award-winning author of six novels for middle grade and young adult readers, including Serena Says, Peas and Carrots, Happy Families, and Mare’s War, which was a Coretta Scott King Honor Book and earned her a nomination for the NAACP Image Award. She grew up in California and was so chatty as a kid that her mother begged her to “just write it down.” Now she’s back in California, doing her best to keep writing it all down. Visit her at tanitasdavis.com.
"A girl with a learning disability navigates the demands of her new school and family dynamics. The story’s brisk pace and accessible vocabulary help readers quickly get to know Henri and the interesting supporting cast. Without sacrificing the story’s light tone, the author highlights the daily obstacles that Henri confronts due to her dyscalculia and her longing for a tighter family unit. Skillfully realized, this is an affirming and inspiring tale for readers who are only ever told what they can’t accomplish. Uplifting and amusing, this book will leave readers with valuable lessons." — Kirkus Reviews
"Henri’s struggles with her learning disability, her feeling overwhelmed with her increasingly busy life, and her contentious relationship with Katherine are matter-of-factly portrayed via a complex character who is not singularly defined by her personal challenges. In this hopeful, well-paced volume, Davis (Partly Cloudy) centers accommodation, community, and understanding." — Publishers Weekly
"Davis (Partly Cloudy) shines with this story of a well-meaning adolescent whose learning disability seems to add an extra layer of complication to an already turbulent stage of life. Although Henri’s apprehension toward math seems rooted in her disability, much of that is reinforced by her own family, especially her mother, who emphasizes that Black girls have to work harder to be taken seriously in the world. Davis successfully drives home the importance of finding one’s own path and accepting the journeys of others." — Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
"The author of Serena Says (2020) and Partly Cloudy (2021), Davis does a particularly good job of portraying Henri’s sister, Mom, and Dad as individuals, while keeping the narrative focused on the main character. Henri makes understandable mistakes, and her reactions involve meaningful reflection about issues such as letting others down. An involving middle-grade narrative with a very likable protagonist." — Booklist
PRAISE FOR PARTLY CLOUDY: "Davis captures the often glossed over tenderness of preadolescence, the space between blossoming independence and a lingering desire for the comfort and support of caregivers. As feel-good realistic fiction, this title reminds young readers that families and friendships alike require honesty, compromise, and understanding—especially when the forecast is partly cloudy." — Booklist (starred review)
"Young readers will grapple with different interpretations and come to their own conclusions about how not to let the bad actions of others allow one to compromise one’s core principles, and the sticky question of whether any part of the burden for making peace rests with those who are the victims of discrimination. The California setting, amid the reality of the state’s wildfires, will resonate with readers who live with climate-related threats. A timely novel full of thought-provoking questions." — Kirkus Reviews
"In this gentle multigenerational narrative, Davis (Serena Says) explores race, tough conversations, and climate change as her endearing protagonist learns to face conflict and embrace community." — Publishers Weekly
Praise for SERENA SAYS: "Middle school energy forms a bustling backdrop for this clever story of navigating changing relationships and developing a sense of personal identity. At the center is spirited, smart Serena, someone readers will appreciate and cheer. A delightful multicultural narrative that spotlights friendship and self-awareness." — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Serena is a smart, intuitive Black girl with relatable fears and insecurities; as the book progresses, she decides she’s ready to step into the spotlight all on her own. Davis capably touches on matters of chronic illness, mental health, and friendship growing pains in this quiet but impactful slice-of-life novel." — Publishers Weekly
"Being the new kid in seventh grade isn’t easy, and [neither is] being Black in a sea of white and brown faces. Davis suggests alternate paths for her protagonist—and by extension, readers—through Madalyn’s challenge: assess whether the friendship is worth pursuing and, if so, insist on the difficult and honest conversations necessary to lay its foundation; or accept the permanence of disaffection, while acting with dignity and respect. Madalyn and Natalie’s . . . mutual courage in reaching for reconciliation offers readers much to ponder." — Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books