Grounded for Good
On the last day of eighth grade, troublemaker Derek Dawson indulges in a prank that earns him community service for the summer. Now he has to spend time volunteering in the library and working at his family's sports store. To his surprise, Derek makes new friends and discovers an appreciation for old movies, books, and the performing arts. As he drifts away from his video game–obsessed pals, he throws himself into a new love of juggling, despite teasing and his family's lack of understanding. Derek has finally found his true calling, but will anyone believe he's cleaned up his act? Juggling enthusiast Daria delivers an entertaining tale aimed at promoting the publisher's goal of active learning through performing arts. The dialogue is occasionally stilted and a little mature for the characters' ages, and the underlying message lacks subtlety, especially when Derek has a falling-out with his old friends over their focus on online games and his involvement with the upcoming talent show. However, the book's sense of joy and wonder makes up for these minor drawbacks. Ages 6–12.