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The Order of Things (Hardcover)
A heart-rending novel-in-verse about a girl beginning to learn it is possible to go on even after a great loss.
Eleven-year-old April Jackson loves playing the drums, almost as much as she loves her best friend, Zee, a violin prodigy. They both dream of becoming professional musicians one day. When Zee starts attending a new school that will nurture his talent, April decides it’s time for her to pursue her dreams, too, and finally take drum lessons. She knows she isn’t very good to start, but with Zee’s support, she also knows someday she can be just as good as her hero, Sheila E., and travel all around the world with a pair of drumsticks in her hand.
When the unthinkable happens and Zee suddenly passes away, April is crushed by grief. Without Zee, nothing is the way it’s supposed to be. Zee's Dad isn't delivering the mail for his postal route like he should. April's Mom is suddenly dating someone new who is occupying too much space in their lives. And every time April tries to play the drums, all she can think about is Zee.
April isn't sure how to move on from the awful feeling of being without Zee. Desperate to help Papa Zee, she decides to secretly deliver the mail he’s been neglecting. But when on her route she discovers a classmate in trouble, she doesn’t second guess what she knows is the right thing to do.
About the Author
Kaija Langley was born in Northern NJ and raised on a healthy diet of library books, music and theater performances, and visits to the family farm in rural North Carolina. The author of the award-winning picture book, When Langston Dances, she loves long road trips, dancing wherever music moves her, and adventures near and far with her Beloved. She splits her time between Cambridge, MA and Los Angeles, CA.
Praise for The Order of Things:
A Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection
“A lyrical and emotionally powerful novel-in-verse…it’s an uplifting tale of grief, courage, and community.” —The Boston Globe
★ “This well-crafted novel in verse is rich in detail . . . The characters are fully realized, and the themes of family, change, and grief are handled with sensitivity and care. A heart-rending narrative of friendship, family, and the path to healing.” —Kirkus, starred review
★ “Langley explores communal grieving and found family in this middle grade debut, a layered novel in verse. . . Declarative lines paint a spare picture of interpersonal bonds and grief, while . . . resilience and desire to uplift loved ones guide a narrative that’s invested in themes of loss, ethics, and empathy.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
★ “This novel-in-verse is a steady roll that powerfully builds, like a satisfying drum solo, and Langley creates a beautiful (if tragic) symphony. . . allowing for tender, heartrending expressions of intergenerational and found family caring in times of deep loss. . . Fans of Kwame Alexander’s emotionally charged and character-driven verse novels will have no problem dancing to the beat of this drum.” —The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, starred review
“Langley has crafted a lovely, beautifully written, and well-plotted novel in verse, populated with memorable, empathetic characters who come alive on the page. Give her a standing O.” —Booklist
"Langley deftly twines music, poetry, family, and friendship in her middle grade debut in verse…Langley’s verse is both approachable and engaging. Despite a relatively low word count, characters, setting, and plot are richly developed. Readers coming for the music will stay for the feels…A strong purchase for most collections and an easy recommendation for a variety of readers." —School Library Journal
"In this compelling verse novel,…Langley takes readers on an emotionally turbulent ride while highlighting characters’ strengths and flaws. The protagonists’ love of music breathes life into the plot and propels the action forward. An honest and poignant portrayal of loss and grief that affirms that time and a supportive community contribute to healing." —The Horn Book