JUST CALL ME STUPID by Tom Birdseye

JUST CALL ME STUPID

Age Range: 8 - 12
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Patrick's problem with reading stems from the trauma of his long-absent father calling him ``Stupid'' and locking him in a closet. By fifth grade, his panic when confronted with the printed word has been reinforced by insensitive teachers, by a bully who taunts him, and by his own failures. Then luck provides two friends--a fine teacher (Mrs. Romero) and a neighbor/classmate. What begins as a shy chess game on the outdoor board where Patrick has been playing against himself becomes real rapport when Celina, brimming with contagious enthusiasm, reads him The Sword and the Stone. Patrick's fright when she suggests he take a turn is a brief setback; but in time he reciprocates by telling her a story that she records and, without telling him, submits to a contest. It wins, but Patrick's first response is fury--at her betrayal and his continued inability to read. Still, his story's success and the confidence of Celina, Mrs. Romero, and his hard-working mother help Patrick begin to find his own honorable way out of his terror and unlock the pleasures of books. Though rather implausibly wise and empathetic, Mrs. Romero and Celina are likable, while the sabotaging of Patrick's real gifts by his long-held fears--and his difficult decision to pull his own metaphorical sword from its stone--are subtly portrayed. Lively and well plotted, with funny--as well as touching--scenes and a satisfyingly upbeat ending. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-8234-1045-5
Page count: 182pp
Publisher: Holiday House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 1993




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