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BETTER THAN WEIRD by Anna Kerz

BETTER THAN WEIRD

By Anna Kerz

Age Range: 9 - 12

Pub Date: March 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-55469-362-7
Publisher: Orca

Nicknamed "Cantwait" by his classmates for his impulsive behavior, awkward sixth-grader Aaron impatiently waits for several things. His father, gone for eight years, is returning with a surprise. Class bully Tufan threatens retribution. The grandmother who has raised him goes for cancer surgery. This moving story looks at both family and school life from the point of view of a boy trying hard to fit into a world he doesn’t quite understand. His loving Gran keeps after him, gently but steadily; the school counselor, Karen, works with him on “reading faces”; and a Big Brother has given him helpful tips. Aaron’s friendship with classmate Jeremy, described from Jeremy’s point of view in The Mealworm Diaries (2009), is sorely tested. Veteran storyteller Kerz moves the third-person narration along quickly, making it jump from scene to scene like Aaron’s attention. Realistically, not every teacher is patient with this challenging boy. His father doesn’t live up to all his expectations, nor he, his father’s. But the surprise turns out to be a positive one; his new, pregnant stepmother welcomes him sympathetically. The details of school life are believable and familiar, and the ending leaves Aaron and readers waiting for a hopeful outcome—the day when he and Gran can move to join his father and new family in Dawson. This companion book stands alone but will surely send readers back to read the first. (Fiction. 9-12)