out with his fellow athletes instead of the
gang. Meanwhile, a school-wide cell-phone
ban leads to the increasingly “twitchy” student body writing their messages, jokes,
opinions, and insults on sticky notes and
slapping them on each other’s lockers for
all to see. Bullying becomes more open, and
matters come to a head when Rose challenges an intimidating middle-school thug to a
suicidal bike race down a steep, wooded hillside. Written with understated humor and
fine-tuned perception, Frost’s first-person
narrative offers a riveting story as well as an
uncomfortably realistic picture of middle-school social dynamics. The author of Ms.
Bixby’s Last Day (2016), Anderson vividly
portrays each boy in Frost’s group, their
intertwined relationships, and their individual responses to the changes that inevitably
come. Initially not well understood by the
narrator, Rose gradually comes into focus
as an individual and an agent of inevitable
change. This rewarding novel should resonate with many readers. —Carolyn Phelan
By Gordon Korman.
June 2017. 258p. Scholastic, $16.99 (9781338053777).
Recovering after a fall, Chase regains consciousness in a hospital bed surrounded by
complete strangers—including his mother
and brother. After he returns to school, he
struggles to regain what amnesia has erased,
but what he learns isn’t reassuring. His two
old buddies from the football team are bullies. The kids he wants to hang out with now,
like those in the video club, were often their
victims, and they’re understandably wary of
the new Chase. If he regains his memory,
will he become the jerk he was before? Chapter by chapter, the very readable first-person
narration shifts among seven students, giving readers access to many points of view.
Their reactions to the changes in Chase’s
outlook vary according to their personalities
and their prior relationships with him. The
characters are well drawn, and the scenes in
which Chase befriends an elderly veteran at
an assisted facility are nicely integrated into
the novel. A talented storyteller, Korman
shows bullying, regret, and forgiveness from
various perspectives and leaves readers with
ideas to ponder. —Carolyn Phelan
By Darcy Miller.
May 2017. 224p. Harper, $16.99 (9780062461223);
e-book (9780062461308). Gr. 3–6.
Ren Hall is doing his best to make his
star-athlete dad proud by going out for the
middle-school cross-country team, never
mind that he hates running. Old-school
comic books and academics are more his
thing. Even so, as sixth grade approaches,
Ren spends the summer mornings jogging
through his neighborhood. One day, he’s
distracted by what looks like a flock of birds
falling out of the sky. Making his way toward
them, he arrives at his new neighbors’ house,
where a girl with flame-red hair meticulously
monitors the tumbling birds. Meet Sutton
Davies, competitive Birmingham Roller Pi-
geon flier. Ren finds both the girl and the
birds fascinating, and before long he’s help-
ing Sutton train her pigeons for an upcoming
competition, instead of running. As this new
friendship blossoms, Ren also grapples with
the growing pains of watching his best friend
join the popular crowd. Miller’s debut soars
and dives among the complex emotions
that accompany growing up and genuine
friendship. Despite a few missteps, Ren ma-
tures and hits his stride by summer’s end.
Rooting for Rafael Rosales.
By Kurtis Scaletta.
Apr. 2017. 288p. Albert Whitman, $16.99
(9780807567425). Gr. 5–7.
Scaletta introduces two intertwined stories. First, meet Rafael, a boy growing up
in the Dominican Republic with a passion
for baseball. Eight years later, meet Maya, a
girl who’s concerned about the environment,
especially the declining bee population. It’s
A NEW MIDDLE GRADE DEBUT FROM
PRINTZ HONOR AUTHOR AMY SARIG KING
HC: 978-0-545-87074-0 • EBK: 978-0-545-87077-1 • $16.99 • Ages 8–12
★“King’s novel will leave readers pondering how
we treat each other and the planet.”
—Publishers Weekly, starred revie w
★“An emotionally rich read.”—School Library Journal, starred review
★“A smart, environmentally conscious underdog
story with a lot of heart and a little sci-fi . . .
—Horn Book Magazine, starred review
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