cover image Isaiah Dunn Is My Hero

Isaiah Dunn Is My Hero

Kelly J. Baptist. Crown, $16.99 (208p) ISBN 978-0-593-12136-8

In this heartfelt middle grade debut adapted from “The Rice and Beans Chronicles of Isaiah Dunn,” a short tale in 2017’s Flying Lessons & Other Stories, 10-year-old Isaiah Dunn’s life has been spiraling out of control since his father died four months ago. His mother struggles with alcoholism, his family is in danger of being evicted from the cheap motel they moved into after losing their apartment, and his very real frustrations—being “the only one who gets in trouble,” among others—are causing problems at school. The Black boy’s only comfort comes in his father’s notebook of stories featuring a superheroic, fictionalized version of Isaiah. Determined to earn the money needed for a new apartment, he tries his hand at selling candy to classmates and sweeping up hair at a barbershop, while quietly connecting with his father’s stories through his own emerging talents as a poet and writer. Baptist offers an age-appropriate look at burgeoning homelessness without an overly neat ending, starring an indomitable protagonist who confronts bullies and faces his own flaws. Isaiah’s optimism, drive, and loyalty to friends and family make him a hero to cheer for and lend a feeling of hope to this exploration of difficult topics. Ages 8–10. [em]Agent: Gabrielle Barnes, Diction Media Group. (Aug.) [/em]