Absolutely Almost

Lisa Graff. Philomel, $16.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-399-16405-7
Half-Korean 10-year-old Albie is being forced to switch from his private New York City school to P.S. 183. His new school gives him more specialized attention, but it also means dodging a name-calling bully and making friends other than his buddy Erlan, whose family is starring in a reality TV show. Because of Albie’s academic struggles (especially in spelling and math), his mother hires Calista, a college art student, to tutor and spend time with him. Albie isn’t happy about these and other developments, and his matter-of-fact observations are often both humorous and poignant: “I didn’t think the book was for babies at all, because for one thing babies can’t read,” he thinks after his mother tells him he’s “way too old” for Captain Underpants and hands him a copy of Johnny Tremain. Graff’s (A Tangle of Knots) gentle story invokes evergreen themes of coming to appreciate one’s strengths (and weaknesses), and stands out for its thoughtful, moving portrait of a boy who learns to keep moving forward, taking on the world at his own speed. Ages 8–12. Agent: Stephen Barbara, Foundry Literary + Media. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/21/2014
Release date: 06/12/2014
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-0-14-750857-7
Prebound-Sewn - 320 pages - 978-0-606-36775-2
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