Seventh grade is not going well for Georges, the only child of an out-of-work Brooklyn architect and a nurse who named him after her favorite painter, pointillist Georges Seurat. Although Georges's mother has taken on double shifts to bring in extra income, the family has had to sell their house and move into an apartment. At school, former best friend Jason, who has started dressing like the skateboarder he isn't, now stands idly by while bullies harass Georges. Newbery Medalist Stead (When You Reach Me) expertly balances Georges's blue period with the introduction of the new neighbors: amateur spy Safer, and his younger sister, Candy, whose parents (in one of many hilarious details) let the kids name themselves. As homeschooled siblings, they offer refreshing perspectives on the ridiculousness of what goes on at Georges's school, including a forthcoming science unit on taste buds that the kids believe forecasts one's destiny. Safer recruits Georges to investigate and observe—using the lobbycam to track a mysterious tenant and binoculars to monitor a nest of wild green parrots—but the biggest secrets are the ones these two sensitive boys have buried in their hearts. Stead has a talent for introducing curriculum-ready topics in the most accessible ways imaginable, e.g., Seurat's painting methods become a persuasive metaphor for what Georges is going through and how he can survive it. Chock-full of fascinating characters and intelligent questions, this is as close to perfect as middle-grade novels come. Ages 9–12. Agent: Faye Bender, Faye Bender Literary Agency. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/11/2012 Release date: 08/07/2012 Genre: Children's
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