Crown. Nov. 2021. 144p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781101932940.
Gr 3-7–After more moves than he can count, Austin has learned how to blend in at a new school. Get someone to read the back cover of the book to you, so you can pretend you’ve read it. Write your name neat and tiny, because that’s what all the smart kids do. Fake a coughing fit if you’re called on to read aloud, because the teacher isn’t going to deny you a drink of water. Austin doesn’t want to cause any problems, and he doesn’t want his teachers to cause him any problems. But things are pretty different when Austin moves to his newest school shortly before summer vacation. For one thing, his teacher seems much cooler than what he’s used to. For another, he meets Bertie—an energetic and enthusiastic classmate who is determined to help Austin navigate this new environment, whether he needs help or not. Bertie is super excited to join the school’s Safety Squad next year as a fifth grader, and Austin thinks that sounds cool, too. But you have to take a test on the rules to become a Safety Squad member, and that’s something Austin can’t fake. This middle grade novel provides an insider’s perspective on what it’s like to be a student with learning difficulties. Austin’s coping mechanisms for getting through school work, and other activities that require reading, will be something struggling learners and reluctant readers can relate to. Additionally, Austin’s frequent descriptions of the colors in his everyday life provide vivid imagery for readers.
VERDICT A great addition to middle grade realistic fiction collections; hand this book to readers who have enjoyed Gary D. Schmidt’s Okay for Now or Jacqueline Woodson’s Harbor Me.

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