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Kirkus
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Some friendships are easy, and some are more complex. Sixth graders Gabe and Oliver have been best friends since pre-K, when sporty Oliver inspired bookish Gabe to try the teeter-totter—and encouraged him to keep trying it until he got the hang of things. This became the basis of their philosophy of complementary friendship. It’s a solid relationship but one that Gabe sometimes worries about as their interests diverge. However, they’re still a natural choice to work together when their teacher gives the class a storytelling assignment that can take any format they wish. The duo embarks on creating a comic that chronicles the adventures of Gabiver, a fictional detective and crime fighter inspired by Dav Pilkey’s Dog Man who is a composite of the two boys. Their assignment—and their friendship—is changed with the addition of new student Reuben, a boy who doesn’t talk, and seventh grader Rae, a girl who refuses to atone to a teacher for voicing her opinion and must spend time with the younger class until she crafts an apology. The story does a lot of things well, including its subtle examination of masculinity and friendship, although it suffers slightly under some far-fetched plot points, excessively tidy resolutions, and easy summations of trauma. Readers looking for a breezy read will most likely be pleased, but those hoping to sink their teeth into something meatier may find it too saccharine. All main characters read White. Sweet but superficial. (Fiction. 8-12) Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.