Summary: The Magnificent Mya Tibbs: Spirit Week Showdown
The Magnificent Mya Tibbs is one of those books that I’ve recommended several times on the basis of trusted reviewers. It was a pleasure to finally meet Mya Tibbs for myself.
Fourth grader Mya Tibbs is excited for Spirit Week! She has made plans to partner with her best friend Naomi Jackson. Mya’s life seems pretty good with her brother Nugget, his best friend affectionately known as Fish, and her other friends, identical twins Starr and Skye. The one scary part is Mean Connie Tate, who everyone knows is the biggest fourth-grade bully. So, you can imagine Mya’s terror when she’s partnered with Connie and Connie refuses to trade partners. On top of that, Naomi is mad at Mya for not trying harder to trade partners. Even the twins who agree on everything are getting torn apart because Skye wants to stay friends with Mya, while Starr is on Naomi’s side.
But as Mya works with Connie, she realizes that things aren’t as she’s thought. In the meantime, her brother Nugget is befriending a popular boy, Solo, and doing his homework to avoid being called “word nerd Nugget” — at the expense of his friendship with his best friend, Fish. At home, the kids do not want to worry their parents since their dad works super hard at his store and their mom is pregnant with a third child. Both kids learn a lot about themselves and what true friendship really means.
First off, I listened to the audiobook narrated by Sisi Aisha Johnson (one of my favorite young middle-grade narrators) and it’s excellent! Mya is such a bubbly, clever protagonist, despite being just about nine years old. I expected this to be almost chapter book level young, but it actually tackles pretty complex friendship issues in a nuanced way. Mya makes several frustrating friendship mistakes — but who doesn’t at age nine? I loved the running theme of forgiving friends when they mess up and are sorry. This is one of those books that teaches kids about making things right and being forgiving when others mess up.
Readers soon get a sense that Naomi isn’t the BFF she appears to be from Mya’s point of view. And (spoiler alert!) she’s quite the bully. She doesn’t push and shove, but she’s malicious, slanders, and manipulates the other girls. I think it’s important for kids to know that there can be different kinds of bullying, and toxic friendships are quite common around this age. A strong point for me in this story is Mya and Nugget’s parents. They’re firm, but loving and encouraging — and they work hard to make themselves available to both of their kids. It was nice to see children have a warm home environment.
The Texas is strong in this book! Mya uses country slang like “good gravy in the navy” and “boo-yang awesome!” — and she wears her cowgirl boots with every outfit. Finally, I thought the resolution of this story was perfect! I’m not the person who follows every single series, but I’m actually interested in following Mya’s story and seeing what adventures she gets up to next.
Overall: The Magnificent Mya Tibbs: Spirit Week Showdown
The Magnificent Mya Tibbs: Spirit Week Showdown is a sweet, realistic story of friendship, family, and forgiveness. Although this early middle-grade book is perfect for younger audiences (the protagonist is in fourth grade), it handles themes like bullying, peer pressure, and toxic friendships in a mature, positive way. Mya is a relatable, funny character who isn’t afraid to be herself — cowgirl boots and all. Finally, this book models heartwarming family dynamics and a positive sibling relationship.
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More Young Middle-Grade Books
- Solving for M by Jennifer Swender
- Ways to Make Sunshine by Renee Watson
- Farah Rocks Fifth Grade by Susan Muaddi Darraj
Want more books for nine year olds? Check out my list of books for fourth graders (including illustrated and non-illustrated options).