Copyright Macmillan Publishers.

Are you looking for a book to read with your kids, grandkids, classroom, MG book club–or if you’re like me and just love to read Middle Grade stories? This new release from Feiwel & Friends (Macmillan Publishers) by debut author Allie Millington has the charm and heartwarming appeal of classics like Charlotte’s Web, but with plenty of appeal for modern kids.

From the opening pages, Olivetti has the feel of the favorite children’s classics I loved reading as a kid. However, unlike the classics, this novel includes cell phones, laptops, and all of the modern contrivances today’s kids rely on daily.

Copyright Pixar/Disney

I loved the way Olivetti (the personified typewriter who shares the narration of the story) struggles with the same emotions we humans do. My favorite Disney film is the original Toy Story, and Olivetti is reminiscent of Woody. Just like Woody is replaced by Buzz, Olivetti feels replaced by a shiny new laptop. When he finds himself on the shelf of a pawnshop, Olivetti’s struggles intensify. Here’s a fun fact about this Toy Story connection: The incomparable Tom Hanks, who voiced the icon character of Woody in the Pixar films, read Olivetti and loved it enough to write a review for the New York Times! How cool is that?

The other narrator in the novel is Ernest Brindle–a quiet boy who prefers keeping to himself. When Ernest’s mother is reported missing, he blames himself. Even though he shies away from friendship in general, he teams up with the pawnshop owner’s daughter as well as Olivetti to discover where (and why) his mother has gone.

As a former 4th grade teacher, this is a novel my students would have enjoyed reading as a class. It has the same type of quirky characters as Kate DiCamillo’s books, introduces them to the lost art of typing, and ends with hope.

Order Olivetti here.