THE WATER BEARS by Kim Baker
Kirkus Star

THE WATER BEARS

Age Range: 9 - 13
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Healing comes from unexpected places in this new middle-grade read.

It’s hard to stand out in an offbeat island community known for monster sightings and an eccentric artists colony, but a year after he was mauled by a bear, Newton “Newt” Gomez feels like an outsider on his island home. As friends and family try to support him in the best ways they know how, Newt just wants to escape the island and the nightmares he endures every night. Plans to transfer to middle school on the mainland, where nobody knows the story behind his scarred leg and limp, are met with disapproval, but Newt feels certain that leaving the island will give him a much-needed fresh start. His plans are complicated, however, when he befriends a mysterious newcomer and becomes embroiled in an intriguing mystery involving a taco truck and beach flotsam that might grant wishes. Further complexity is added to Newt’s story by the fact that his is the only Mexican American family living in his island town, a fact that adds to his feelings of difference and fuels his desire to leave. Other characters are assumed white. Rich character building, tender relationships, and a vibrant setting tingling with magical possibility combine for a satisfying tale.

Both a whimsy-soaked journey of self-discovery and a successful exploration of the tough reality of recovering from trauma. (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: April 21st, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-9848-5220-5
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 2020