Tony Abbott, Author . Little, Brown $15.99 (145p) ISBN 978-0-316-01171-6

Abbott's (the Secrets of Droon series) stirring novel centers on Tom Bender, who describes himself as a "sweaty, fat kid" who feels invisible much of the time. ("People don't really talk to me much in school or notice me.... My mother says it's because I don't 'get out there.' ") The seventh-grade narrator's only friend is Jeff, who seems angry quite often since his father moved out. Tom has a crush on Courtney, a beautiful and popular classmate, and he imagines himself as a superhero who can rescue her from danger. But it isn't Courtney who needs rescuing. Jessica, who has been badly burned in a fire, joins their class at St. Catherine's when she moves to town to undergo skin grafts at a nearby hospital. "I remember wondering how someone looking like that could even be alive," Tom says the first time he sees her. None of the students attempts to get to know Jessica. Tom, too, initially keeps his distance, though he (unlike Jeff) holds her hand during class prayer time. When he brings Jessica her homework on a day she is absent, the girl poignantly opens up to him and he, in turn, shares his secret thoughts and superhero fantasies with her. Though fleeting and fragile, Tom's connection to Jessica changes his perspective on himself, his peers and friendship, and underscores the reward of reaching out to another—of getting "out there." This novel may be brief, but it leaves a big impact. Ages 8-12. (June)

Reviewed on: 05/22/2006
Release date: 06/01/2006
Genre: Children's
Prebound-Sewn - 149 pages - 978-0-7569-8177-8
Paperback - 224 pages - 978-957-570-915-0
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-0-316-05019-7
Paperback - 149 pages - 978-0-316-01170-9
Compact Disc - 3 pages - 978-0-7393-4880-2
Downloadable Audio - 1 pages - 978-0-7393-5514-5
Open Ebook - 70 pages - 978-0-316-14819-1
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