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Okay for Nowby Gary D. Schmidt
Synopses & Reviews
As a fourteen-year-old who just moved to a new town, with no friends and a louse for an older brother, Doug Swieteck has all the stats stacked against him.
So begins a coming-of-age masterwork full of equal parts comedy and tragedy from Newbery Honor winner Gary D. Schmidt. As Doug struggles to be more than the “skinny thug” that his teachers and the police think him to be, he finds an unlikely ally in Lil Spicer — a fiery young lady who "smelled like daisies would smell if they were growing in a big field under a clearing sky after a rain." In Lil, Doug finds the strength to endure an abusive father, the suspicions of a whole town, and the return of his oldest brother, forever scarred, from Vietnam. Together, they find a safe haven in the local library, inspiration in learning about the plates of John James Audubon's birds, and a hilarious adventure on a Broadway stage.
In this stunning novel, Schmidt expertly weaves multiple themes of loss and recovery in a story teeming with distinctive, unusual characters and invaluable lessons about love, creativity, and survival.
"This companion to The Wednesday Wars follows the formula of Schmidt's Newbery Honor winner with less success. Doug Swieteck, a prankster in the previous book, has graver problems than Holling Hoodhood did, making the interplay of pathos and slapstick humor an uneasy fit. In summer 1968, the Swietecks leave Long Island for the Catskills, where Doug's father has found work. Doug's mother (like Holling's) is kind but ineffectual; Mr. Swieteck is a brutish jerk. His abuse of his three sons, one of whom is currently in Vietnam, happens mostly offstage, but one episode of unthinkable cruelty is recounted as a flashback to explain why Doug refuses to take off his shirt in gym class. Doug does make two key friends: Lil, whose father owns the deli for which Doug becomes delivery boy, and the less fleshed-out Mr. Powell, a librarian who instantly sees Doug's potential as an artist. There are lovely moments, but the late addition of an implausible subplot in which Lil, who has never shown an interest in acting, is drafted for a role in a Broadway play, seems desultory considering the story's weightier elements. Ages 10 — 14. (Apr.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWxyz LLC)
"This is Schmidt's best novel yet — darker than The Wednesday Wars and written with more restraint, but with the same expert attention to voice, character and big ideas." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"Readers will miss Doug and his world when they're done, and will feel richer for having experienced his engaging, tough, and endearing story." School Library Journal (Starred Review)
"The book is exceptionally well written. Schmidt creates characters that will remain with the reader long after the book is done. Doug's voice is unforgettable as he tries to help and protect his mom....While there is much stacked against him, he is a character filled with hope that the reader cannot help but root for. Push this one on readers; they will not be sorry....Schmidt writes a journal-type story with a sharp attention to detail, patterns in the story line, and an unexpected twist at the end." VOYA
In this stunning novel, Newbery Honor winner Gary D. Schmidt expertly weaves multiple themes of loss and recovery in a story teeming with distinctive, unusual characters and invaluable lessons about love, creativity, and survival.
It is the mid-eighteenth century, and young British subject Anson Granville Staplyton has traveled to Ireland, where his regiment has been sent to keep the king's peace. Anson has waited all his life for the day he would follow his father to serve His Majesty in the Staffordshire Fencibles. But the young drummer's notions of glory are shaken when he witnesses the violent injustices thrust upon the Irish people. Anson is torn even further when he meets an Irish hedge master who secretly teaches children the lilting language and history of their won country-lessons that it is Anson's duty to silence. Torn between family honor and his ever-changing sense of justice, Anson struggles to choose his own way in beautiful yet turbulent Ireland.
What fills a hand fuller than a skein of gold? By order of the king, two boys, Tousle and Innes, must find the answer to this puzzling riddle within seven days or be killed. A former nursemaid to the queens child tells the boys that the banished queen may have the answer they seek. Danger presents itself at every turn, for the boys are pursued by the Great Barons, who are secretly plotting against the king. Another pursuer, the greedy Kings Grip, reveals a strange story of a little man who once spun straw into gold of incredible beauty for the queen but then disappeared with her firstborn son. Tousle realizes that the man he calls Da is the strange little man and, even more amazing, that he himself may be the lost prince. Or could it be Innes, who although cruelly blinded can hear the music of the dawn?
This skillful blend of fantasy and adventure reveals what might have happened before the queen makes her third and last guess and the story of Rumpelstiltskin—as we know it—ends.
“Henry Smiths father told him that if you build your house far enough away from Trouble, then Trouble will never find you.”
But Trouble comes careening down the road one night in the form of a pickup truck that strikes Henrys older brother, Franklin. In the truck is Chay Chouan, a young Cambodian from Franklins preparatory school, and the accident sparks racial tensions in the school—and in the well-established town where Henrys family has lived for generations. Caught between anger and grief, Henry sets out to do the only thing he can think of: climb Mt. Katahdin, the highest mountain in Maine, which he and Franklin were going to climb together. Along with Black Dog, whom Henry has rescued from drowning, and a friend, Henry leaves without his parents knowledge. The journey, both exhilarating and dangerous, turns into an odyssey of discovery about himself, his older sister, Louisa, his ancestry, and why one can never escape from Trouble.
About the Author
Gary D. Schmidt is the bestselling author of Okay For Now, the Newbery Honor and Printz Honor book Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy, and the Newbery Honor book The Wednesday Wars. He is a professor of English at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
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