Saving Wonder

Mary Knight. Scholastic Press, $16.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-545-82893-2
Knight delivers a strong environmental message and a language lesson in her debut novel, which stars a dauntless young hero living in an Appalachian mining town. Seventh-grader Curley Hines has seen firsthand how cruel the coal-mining industry can be. If it weren’t for the mines, his parents and younger brother might still be alive. Now Curley lives with his grandfather, who educates him on the power of words, giving him new ones to learn each week; organized alphabetically, the words (like dillydally and juxtapose) and their definitions close each chapter. Papaw thinks Curley should leave the mountains someday, but Curley wants to stay close to his best friend Jules and his family’s graves. When the mine changes ownership, Curley faces new crises, including the possibility of losing two things dear to his heart: his favorite tree and a mountaintop scheduled to be blasted. Readers will feel Curley’s sorrow and cheer him on during his campaign to save what he loves most. Knight frankly addresses the reality of harsh changes, but Curley’s spirit, moving people inside and outside the community to act, is inspirational. Ages 8–12. Agent: Brenda Bowen, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 11/09/2015
Release date: 02/23/2016
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