Ten-year-old Woodrow Schwette is the weirdest kid in his class until quiet, tiny, suit-wearing Toulouse Gulot shows up by way of Quebec. Jennings (My Homework Ate My Homework) creates a sympathetic underdog in Woodrow, a boy all too used to being relentlessly teased by class bullies Garrett and Hubcap, whose casual cruelty will likely make some readers shudder with recognition. Woodrow must decide if he will stand aside while Toulouse—with his “old-man hat,” “wide, round eyes,” and vocabulary that’s initially limited to the word “Who”—becomes the bullies’ new punching bag, or if he will stand up for his new friend. Jennings gives Woodrow a relatable voice and laces the story with clues that hint at the twist that is confirmed in the book’s final chapters. The author does such a nice job of building to the big revelation that it’s unfortunate that the book’s cover treatment basically spoils the surprise. Nevertheless, it’s a warm and funny story about being true to oneself and standing up for what’s right. Ages 8–12. Agent: Rosemary Stimola, Stimola Literary Studio. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 10/21/2013 Release date: 01/28/2014 Genre: Children's
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