Sapphire the Great and the Meaning of Life Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Cover: Sapphire the Great and the Meaning of Life Author: Beverley Brenna Illustrator: Tara Anderson

“Alternating narrators Jeannie and her pet hamster exude an endearing impetuousness in this novel about family and finding one’s true self….Brenna (The White Bicycle) expands on themes of identity and acceptance by introducing Anna, Jeannie’s mother’s transgender friend, and Robin, the man who is Harvey’s new partner. Represented by different fonts, the emotive narrative voices are distinctive and wryly limned….Fetching portraits of Sapphire by Anderson (Rhino Rumpus) open each chapter.”

Click here to read the full review

Quill & Quire“She persisted: Two early reader chapter books show preteen girls going after what they want”

“In two new middle-grade novels about modern tweendom – with LGBT themes – feisty young protagonists face grown-up problems with strength and conviction….

Written by award-winning Saskatoon author Beverley Brenna, and illustrated by Tara Anderson, Sapphire the Great is full of zest….Throughout the novel, the theme of gender-nonconformity is present without being explicitly broken down or didactic….

Both these books contain positive LGBTQ characters and themes. Sibby mentions Charlie Parker Drysdale’s ‘two moms’ and, in Sapphire, Jeannie’s dad has a new boyfriend. Brenna’s novel also directly challenges young readers to think beyond cisgender norms. These original stories would be very helpful classroom resources to provide an entry point for anti-bias and inclusive language and to open up important conversations on gender, self-identity, and inclusivity.”

Click here to read the full review

Kirkus Reviews

“This slice-of-life Canadian import is more than just another ‘I want to get a pet’ tale….Sapphire and Jeannie narrate alternating chapters, and neither is completely aware of all that is going on around them. Sapphire, especially, reports dialogue and action she does not fully understand, adding an additional layer to this tale of understanding difference.”

Click here to read the full review

HW Book Reviews

“The story is told through short alternating chapters between Jeannie and Sapphire the Great (her hamster).

We join Jeannie, Alistair (her brother), and their mother three weeks after Christmas and two weeks after their father left, Harvey, left the house. Everyone is dealing with the separation in different ways. Jeannie yells everything, Alistair has turned to video games, and their mother is feeling very stressed….

This book has left me at a loss for words in a very good way. The characters are so engaging, honest, and real that you forget you are reading a book….The story is complete, satisfying, and just feels right…..

Overall rating: ♥♥♥♥♥”

Click here to read the full review

Canadian Bookworm

“This children’s novel is told from two points of view. One is that of nine-year-old Jeannie….The other point of view is that of Sapphire, the hamster that Jeannie gets….We watch how Jeannie struggles with her own feelings, sometimes erupting in frustration, anger, or sadness. And we watch how spending time with Sapphire calms her, and others in her household.

The idea of freedom extends beyond Sapphire into others in the story, who are struggling with the freedom to be who they really are, despite how others may react to them. It’s about being able to have that freedom to be comfortable in your own skin, to be happy with your life, and to see that life in a positive way….

This book exposes children to a variety of family types, and opens the door to discussion in a positive way of these differences. A great addition to any library.”

Click here to read the full review