Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Absolutely Almost

Booklist starred (May 1, 2014 (Vol. 110, No. 17))
Grades 4-6. Albie almost understands why he is starting fifth grade at a new school. It’s got something to do with the things he can’t quite do, like subtract numbers inside his head or figure out the words in books. Fortunately, Albie also gets a kindhearted new sitter named Calista, who can turn Albie’s sadness into happiness simply through the magic of donuts. But even Calista can’t stop the mean kid at school from calling Albie names, or make Albie’s parents see how hard he tries in school. As every kid knows, some problems take more than donuts to solve. Graff (A Tangle of Knots, 2013) creates a heartfelt portrait of a child searching for nothing more than a safe place to thrive. The story is parsed into short chapters that can stand alone as mini-stories, perfect for young readers who aren’t ready to tackle full pages of text. This format is also well suited to presenting the incremental steps of Albie’s evolution from bewildered victim to hero of his own story. Beautifully written, Albie’s story is accessible and dignified, with a gentle message that will touch any reader’s heart. Middle-grade readers will love the references to Dav Pilkey’s inexhaustibly popular Captain Underpants series, which has introduced so many children to the fun side of reading. A perfect book to share with struggling readers.

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