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Absolutely Almost

by Lisa Graff

Published by Philomel/ Penguin, 2014
288 pages
ISBN: 978𢠥99-164057

Ages 9-12

Albie knows the reason he was asked to leave his former, private school has to do with the fact that learning is a struggle for him. At home, Albie can sense the tension over his academic abilities, although his mom tells him every night that he抯 caring and thoughtful and good. His busy parents (his dad long ago forgot about the model plane they were building together) have hired Calista to be his nanny after school. At ten, Albie thinks he抯 too old for a nanny, but he can抰 help liking Calista. She抯 a free-spirited and creative young graduate student who puts a Johnny Tremain book cover over Albie抯 Captain Underpants so both he and his mom will be happy; and who takes him to the zoo on a day when he can抰 face going to school, because things that had seemed to be alright suddenly go so wrong. Albie抯 voice is remarkable for its innocence and honesty in Lisa Graff抯 poignant and funny novel about a boy who may struggle to understand math and irony (as revealed in his encounters with less-than-kind classmates), but whose heart is always true. Finding the courage to speak that truth is one of Albie抯 challenges, but when he does, it makes him stronger and surer of himself in a world that will always be full of complexities and uncertainties. A couple of terrific teachers stand out among the fine secondary characters in this novel that also has wonderful moments of quiet humor, and explores bullying as one of its many themes.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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