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STAND TALL by Joan Bauer

STAND TALL

By Joan Bauer

Age Range: 10 & up

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-399-23473-X
Publisher: Putnam

Tree is the tallest seventh-grade boy ever to attend Eleanor Roosevelt Middle School. At six feet, three and a half inches, Tree knows “tallness is packed with great expectations.” He knows “people expect trees to be strong and steady.” But being a tree isn’t easy. Not when your parents have divorced, leaving you feeling like “a sci-fi movie where someone is there one minute, gone the next. Poof.” Or when your beloved grandpa has his right leg removed below the knee and suffers phantom pains in the empty place. Or when you know that Grandpa is still haunted by memories of friends lost in the Vietnam War—a different kind of phantom pain. This is a story of loss and the empty places left behind, and how Tree grows into his name, lives up to expectations, and becomes a hero. From Grandpa, he learns that empty places “don’t get filled in right away. You’ve got to look at them straight on, see what’s still standing. Concentrate on what you’ve got as much as you can.” In trees, war, laser pens, even the positive and negative ends of batteries, Bauer (Hope Was Here, 2000, etc.) is a master at finding inspiration and purpose in everyday life. She writes about serious themes with humor, grace, and wisdom. If the story is unabashedly inspirational, maybe that’s something young readers will appreciate these days—an eloquent story of ordinary heroes when “the shock of loss was everywhere.” (Fiction. 10+)