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Zero Tolerance

by Claudia Mills

Published by Farrar Straus Giroux, 2013
240 pages
ISBN: 978-0-374-33312-6

Ages 9-12

Sierra Shepard is an honor student who has always followed the rules. So on the day she accidentally brings her mother's lunch to school, she turns it in as soon as she discovers the paring knife inside. But her middle school has a zero tolerance policy on weapons and misbehavior. Her principal, told of the incident just as he’s proudly touting the policy and its many positive results to a colleague from another school, refuses to consider the circumstance. To her dismay, Sierra faces in-school suspension, to be followed by a mandatory expulsion hearing. She’s now spending her days among kids she’s always judged harshly for getting in trouble. To her surprise, she discovers that, like hers, their stories are not always a simple case of right versus wrong. In the meantime, the media has latched onto Sierra’s plight thanks to her father, a high-powered attorney who is furious about what’s happened. Sierra’s situation is affecting every aspect of her life, and the way she sees everything and everyone is changing. Claudia Mills excels at revealing the complexity of both child and adult characters and their relationships in a novel that upper elementary and early middle school students will be eager to discuss: Could something like this happen at their school? (MS) ©2013 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

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