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Hold Fast

by Blue Balliett

Published by Scholastic, 2013
288 pages
ISBN: 978𢠧45-299886

Ages 8-11

Blue Balliett抯 most recent story has a cryptic opening chapter that sets the stage for a mystery with serious undertones. Early抯 father, Dash, has disappeared on his way home from work at the Chicago Public Library. It soon becomes clear that Dash抯 disappearance is linked to the 揺xtra work he was doing helping process donated books. Dash thought all was aboveboard, but the police are quick to assume the missing man was involved in a crime. The more Early tries to discover what happened, the clearer it becomes that something criminal was going on without Dash抯 knowledge. Smart, observant Early must figure out a way to understand numerical patterns and wordplay in hopes of solving her dad抯 disappearance. But this story is also an affecting look at homelessness and the power of dreams. Early, her little brother, and mother end up in a shelter without Dash抯 income, and the reality and emotional impact of life without a permanent home are poignantly portrayed through vivid, child-centered details. At the same time, African American Early has been raised in a family of dreamers who believe in aiming high and working hard to achieve what they envision. The Langston Hughes poem 揇reams is their touchstone, and its message proves transformative. The story抯 ending, full of optimism, is not the most realistic dimension of the novel but it抯 one to embrace. Because sometimes, it抯 the unjaded eyes of a child that can look at old problems in new ways梥eeing possibilities rather than barriers, offering hope rather than hopelessness. (MS) 2013 Cooperative Children抯 Book Center

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