Thursday, October 11, 2012
Tween Pick: The Normal Kid
The Normal Kid
by Elizabeth Holmes
Poignant, stunning, sweet, and heartfelt, The Normal Kid speaks to the "normal kid" in all of us. Three very different kids become friends and learn the value of accepting others.
Sylvan is quiet and hurting. Since his father moved out, his mother has thrown herself into her "causes." She is saving the planet one tree at a time, one less plastic bag at a time, one less housing development at a time. She is up to her elbows in causes and barely notices that her son is hurting. He looks up to teacher Mr. In and does well in his class.
Charity is new to the school and all the way from Africa. Her parents were missionaries there until a terrible accident ruined their church and made her father hate God. What do you do when the father you know as loving and giving turns angry and bitter? Charity has grown up a world away where she never saw television and the Internet was just a rumor. She tries to keep silent after the kids giggle at her strange manners and clothing.
Brian is a loner who doesn't say much. He's terrified of change and people touching him. He is in Mr. In's class because the administrator feels it will help him. She knows Mr. In is considerate and accepting, and she hopes the kids in the class will make school easier for "Trampoline Boy"--Brian jumps on the trampoline at home for hours on end.
When Mr. In's job is threatened, the three neighbors and classmates team up to keep their beloved teacher.
Sylvan realizes that everyone is "normal" in their own way. He says, "And then I thought, but Charity is normal, just a little different. And then I thought, What exactly does 'normal' mean anyway?...I don't know if you'd call Brian exactly normal, but I like him...Because like I keep saying, I am a normal kid."
Readers will recognize the underdog in Sylvan and appreciate his outlook on life. Brian and Charity are welcome characters and kids will empathize with each of them.
Highly, highly recommended grades 5-up. This would be a great book for teaching acceptance and inclusion.
FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.