cover image One Kid’s Trash

One Kid’s Trash

Jamie Sumner. Atheneum, $17.99 (240p) ISBN 978-1-5344-5703-4

Irish American rising sixth grader Hugo O’Connell, 11, is used to being picked on and passed over, thanks to his small stature. When he and his parents move from Denver to Creekside, Colo., so his ex-engineer dad can pursue his passion of ski instructing, Hugo hopes he’ll have a fresh start, despite his anguish at having to leave his only friends behind. Starting middle school with his affable half-Indian, half-white cousin, Vijay, whose thoughtful inclusion often leaves him feeling coddled (“I love my cousin. But I wish I didn’t need a tour guide for my own life”), Hugo builds tentative friendships with Vijay’s friends, who are launching a school newsletter, and begins leveraging his unusual skill at garbology—the practice of inferring information about a person from their trash—to help classmates make sports teams, finagle rides from older siblings, and more. With his dad becoming increasingly absent and the arguments between his parents growing more frequent, Hugo leans into his growing popularity to distract himself and take on a bully. Sumner (Tune It Out) renders Hugo’s journey toward embracing his strengths and recognizing the power of kindness painfully believable, not shying from his own hurtful and immature behavior as he learns valuable lessons about friendship and family. Ages 10–up. (Aug.)