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2011 National Book Award FinalistAs a fourteen-year-old who just moved to a new town, with no friends and a louse for an older brother, Doug Swieteck has all the stats stacked against him. So begins a coming-of-age masterwork full of equal parts comedy and tragedy from Newbery Honor winner Gary D. Schmidt. As Doug struggles to be more than the "skinny thug" that his teachers and the police think him to be, he finds an unlikely ally in Lil Spicer--a fiery young lady who "smelled like daisies would smell if they were growing in a big field under a clearing sky after a rain." In Lil, Doug finds the strength to endure an abusive father, the suspicions of a whole town, and the return of his oldest brother, forever scarred, from Vietnam. Together, they find a safe haven in the local library, inspiration in learning about the plates of John James Audubon's birds, and a hilarious adventure on a Broadway stage. In this stunning novel, Schmidt expertly weaves multiple themes of loss and recovery in a story teeming with distinctive, unusual characters and invaluable lessons about love, creativity, and survival.
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About the Author

Gary D. Schmidt is the author of the Newbery Honor and Printz Honor book Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy. His most recent novel is The Wednesday Wars. He is a professor of English at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Reviews

"This is Schmidt's best novel yet--darker than The Wednesday Wars and written with more restraint, but with the same expert attention to voice, character and big ideas."--Kirkus Reviews, starred review"Reproductions of Audubon plates introduce each chapter in this stealthily powerful, unexpectedly affirming story of discovering and rescuing one's best self, despite family pressure to do otherwise."--Booklist, starred review"Readers will miss Doug and his world when they're done, and will feel richer for having experienced his engaging, tough, and endearing story."--School Library Journal, starred review "The book is exceptionally well written. Schmidt creates characters that will remain with the reader long after the book is done. Doug's voice is unforgettable as he tries to help and protect his mom. . . .While there is much stacked against him, he is a character filled with hope that the reader cannot help but root for. Push this one on readers; they will not be sorry. . . .Schmidt writes a journal-type story with a sharp attention to detail, patterns in the story line, and an unexpected twist at the end."-VOYA A National Book Award Nominee "This is Schmidt's best novel yet darker than "The Wednesday Wars "and written with more restraint, but with the same expert attention to voice, character and big ideas." "Kirkus Reviews, " "starred review""Reproductions of Audubon plates introduce each chapter in this stealthily powerful, unexpectedly affirming story of discovering and rescuing one s best self, despite family pressure to do otherwise." "Booklist, starred review""Readers will miss Doug and his world when they re done, and will feel richer for having experienced his engaging, tough, and endearing story." "School Library Journal, starred review" "The book is exceptionally well written. Schmidt creates characters that will remain with the reader long after the book is done. Doug s voice is unforgettable as he tries to help and protect his mom. . . .While there is much stacked against him, he is a character filled with hope that the reader cannot help but root for. Push this one on readers; they will not be sorry. . . .Schmidt writes a journal-type story with a sharp attention to detail, patterns in the story line, and an unexpected twist at the end." "VOYA" A National Book Award Nominee" "This is Schmidt's best novel yet--darker than "The Wednesday Wars "and written with more restraint, but with the same expert attention to voice, character and big ideas."--"Kirkus Reviews, ""starred review""Reproductions of Audubon plates introduce each chapter in this stealthily powerful, unexpectedly affirming story of discovering and rescuing one's best self, despite family pressure to do otherwise."--"Booklist, starred review""Readers will miss Doug and his world when they're done, and will feel richer for having experienced his engaging, tough, and endearing story."--"School Library Journal, starred review""The book is exceptionally well written. Schmidt creates characters that will remain with the reader long after the book is done. Doug's voice is unforgettable as he tries to help and protect his mom. . . .While there is much stacked against him, he is a character filled with hope that the reader cannot help but root for. Push this one on readers; they will not be sorry. . . .Schmidt writes a journal-type story with a sharp attention to detail, patterns in the story line, and an unexpected twist at the end."-"VOYA"A National Book Award Nominee "This is Schmidt's best novel yet--darker than"The Wednesday Wars"and written with more restraint, but with the same expert attention to voice, character and big ideas."--"Kirkus Reviews, "starred review 2005 Newbery Honor & Printz Honor ("Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy")2008 Newbery Honor ("The Wednesday Wars") Wednesday Wars "Schmidt...makes the implausible believable and the everyday momentous...a gentle, hopefuly, moving story." --"Booklist," starred review "Another winner...deeply satisfying." --"Publishers Weekly," starred review "Schmidt ... [gets] to the emotional heart of every scene without overstatement ... another virtuoso turn by the author of LIZZIE BRIGHT." "Kirkus Reviews," starred review "Schmidt rises above the novel's conventions to create memorable and believable characters." --"Horn Book," starred review "[An] entertaining and nuanced novel....There are laugh-out-loud moments that leaven the many poignant ones." --"School Library Journal" "An accessible, humorous school story, and at the same time, an insightful coming-of-age tale." "--Bookpage" "Fans of ...LIZZIE BRIGHT AND THE BUCKMINSTER BOY may be ple

Gr 6-9-A forced move from Long Island to upstate New York in the late 1960s leaves Doug Swieteck on his own to deal with his reprehensible dad and bad-boy older brothers. His salvation comes largely from kind strangers who help to nurture his talents and his humanity. Schmidt's masterful characterization and balance of humor and pathos make this coming-of-age novel so memorable. (Apr.) (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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