by Erin Entrada Kelly
Book list *Starred Review* Four middle-schoolers' fates intertwine one summer in Kelly's (The Land of Forgotten Girls, 2016) touching tale of friendship. Scrawny, taciturn Virgil Salinas can generally be found caring for his guinea pig and avoiding neighborhood bully Chet Bullens. The only people he feels comfortable around are his lola (his Filipino grandmother) and his Japanese American friend Kaori, who fancies herself a psychic. Kaori's quirky self-confidence is a foil to Virgil's insecurities, and when he comes to her for help befriending a girl in his class, Valencia Somerset, she can't wait to consult her star chart. For her own part, Valencia struggles with nightmares after being rejected by her best friend, and the fact that she's deaf hasn't made finding new friends easy. When she spots Kaori's business card on a notice board, she makes an appointment to discuss her troubling dreams. That very day, Virgil goes missing, and Valencia joins Kaori's search for the boy. Chapters alternate between the four kids' perspectives, infusing the story with their unique interests, backgrounds, beliefs, and doubts. Lola's hilariously grim Filipino folk stories weave in and out of Virgil's mind, ultimately giving him the courage to stand up for himself; and rather than holding her back, Valencia's deafness heightens her perceptiveness. Readers will be instantly engrossed in this relatable neighborhood adventure and its eclectic cast of misfits.--Smith, Julia Copyright 2016 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
School Library Journal Gr 3-7-The universe comes together unexpectedly when a unique set of circumstances cause four tweens to cross paths. Central to the story is Virgil, an 11-year-old Filipino American whose grandmother, Lola, helps him to come out of his shell and face the world. When Virgil and his pet guinea pig, Gulliver, end up trapped in a well in the woods at the hands of a bully, Chet, it is up to the stars to align before it's too late. Coming together like spokes on a wheel, everyone converges in the woods-Valencia, a Deaf girl on whom Virgil has a crush; Kaori, an adolescent fortune-teller and free spirit; Kaori's sister, Gen, her jump-roping apprentice; a feral dog Valencia has befriended; and a snake, which is the only thing Chet fears. Unlikely friendships are formed and heroism abounds as the group of young people try to find their way in the world. Plucky protagonists and a deftly woven story will appeal to anyone who has ever felt a bit lost in the universe. VERDICT Readers across the board will flock to this book that has something for nearly everyone-humor, bullying, self-acceptance, cross-generational relationships, and a smartly fateful ending.-Michele Shaw, Quail Run Elementary School, San Ramon, CA © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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Publishers Weekly Kelly (The Land of Forgotten Girls) offers up a charming novel about a serendipitous friendship that forms among a trio of sixth graders after a bully's heartless act brings them together. Virgil Salinas, an immensely shy 11-year-old, lives in the shadow of his boisterous family, struggles in school, and wants little more than to hang out with his guinea pig, Gulliver, and friend, Kaori Tanaka, a self-proclaimed psychic. Virgil's classmate Valencia, who is ostracized at school because of her near deafness, longs for a friend for the summer and hopes that Kaori's psychic powers might help her vanquish her recurring nightmares. Instead, Kaori enlists Valencia's help to rescue Virgil after he fails to show up for a scheduled meeting. Kelly rotates among the viewpoints of Kaori, Virgil, Valencia, and neighborhood bully Chet, who contribute their own distinct stories, voices, and challenges. Infused with humor and hope, this book deftly conveys messages of resilience and self-acceptance through simple acts of everyday courage. Readers will be left inspired to tackle life's fears head-on. Ages 8-12. Agent: Sara Crowe, Pippin Properties. (Mar.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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