Published by HarperCollins
Summary: Benny feels like he can’t get a break. His father’s just out of the hospital following an accident that Benny feels was his fault, and he’s far from completely recovered. He got Mr. Norris, supposedly the best fourth grade teacher, who is proving to be a bit of a disappointment. And then there are the struggles Benny deals with every year, like low grades on spelling tests and keeping an eye on his older brother George, who has autism. His oldest brother is on the basketball team and has a pretty girlfriend, even George can do tricks on his bicycle, but Benny can’t seem to find anything he’s good at. He tries to follow his mother’s advice: when bad things happen, you should think about someone else’s problems and try to help them. Slowly, with two steps forward and one backward, Benny begins to find his strengths and to realize he has the power to make his own luck. 240 pages; ages 8-12
Pros: This beautifully written book will be enjoyed by fans of Wonder, Absolutely Almost, and The Meaning of Maggie…all stories of kids in difficult circumstances learning to find their own strengths with the help of caring teachers, friends, and family members.
Cons: This is one of those books that’s hard to sell to kids. It sounds like it could be kind of a downer without a lot of action, yet I found it so compelling I read it in less than 24 hours.