* "Albie comes through significant emotional hardship to a genuine sense of self-worth."--School Library Journal, starred review * "A perfect book to share with struggling readers."--Booklist, starred review * "Achingly superb, Albie's story shines."--Kirkus Reviews, starred review * "Graff's...gentle story invokes evergreen themes of coming to appreciate one's strengths (and weaknesses), and stands out for its thoughtful, moving portrait of a boy who learns to keep moving forward, taking on the world at his own speed."--Publishers Weekly, starred review "Lately the patrons of my school library have been asking, 'Do you have any books like Wonder by R.J. Palacio?' and now I have the perfect offering."--BookPage "Maybe the wonder of Absolutely Almost is that it's willing to give us an almost unheard of hero."--Betsy Bird, Fuse #8 Blog "Graff...again draws on her ability to create rich lifeworlds for her characters to present a boy who is gifted in many ways.... T]his is a sharp portrait of an outsider's inner perspective, and Albie's coming to terms with himself will be cheered by many."--BCCB Reviews
- ISBN-13: 9780399164057
- ISBN-10: 0399164057
- Publisher: Philomel Books
- Publish Date: June 2014
- Page Count: 288
- Reading Level: Ages 8-12
- Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.9 x 1.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 0.95 pounds
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2014-04-21
- Reviewer: Staff
Half-Korean 10-year-old Albie is being forced to switch from his private New York City school to P.S. 183. His new school gives him more specialized attention, but it also means dodging a name-calling bully and making friends other than his buddy Erlan, whose family is starring in a reality TV show. Because of Albie’s academic struggles (especially in spelling and math), his mother hires Calista, a college art student, to tutor and spend time with him. Albie isn’t happy about these and other developments, and his matter-of-fact observations are often both humorous and poignant: “I didn’t think the book was for babies at all, because for one thing babies can’t read,” he thinks after his mother tells him he’s “way too old” for Captain Underpants and hands him a copy of Johnny Tremain. Graff’s (A Tangle of Knots) gentle story invokes evergreen themes of coming to appreciate one’s strengths (and weaknesses), and stands out for its thoughtful, moving portrait of a boy who learns to keep moving forward, taking on the world at his own speed. Ages 8–12. Agent: Stephen Barbara, Foundry Literary + Media. (June)
When at first you don't succeed . . .
It is true that Lisa Graff’s latest book, Absolutely Almost, brings to mind someone else’s work, but not because Graff is in any way imitative—she’s far too brilliant to sound like someone else. Lately the patrons of my school library have been asking, “Do you have any books like Wonder by R.J. Palacio?” and now I have the perfect offering. Like Wonder, Absolutely Almost is the story of a boy struggling to fit in. Unlike Auggie, however, Graff’s protagonist Albie doesn’t have any noticeable problems; he just cannot succeed at school. Reading is hard. Math is impossible. So much so, in fact, that he can no longer attend private school. His busy parents are not happy. Albie, who now has to adjust to fifth grade in public school, is definitely not happy. A reader might hope for a magic answer: Does Albie have a learning disorder? Will the new nanny fix everything? Something will make it all better, right? Maybe. At the end of Wonder, Auggie was still Auggie—a kid with problems, both ordinary and extraordinary. Albie is also just a kid trying to find his way.
Graff has an uncanny ability to sound exactly like a 10-year-old boy, which allows the reader to feel the “almost” that Albie confronts every day. Graff almost won the National Book Award for A Tangle of Knots; here’s hoping she gets a big award soon. Like Albie, she deserves it.
Jennifer Bruer Kitchel is the librarian for a Pre-K through eighth level Catholic school.