Synopses & Reviews
From the author of A Tangle of Knots and Absolutely Almost, a touching story about a boy who won't let one tragic accident define him.
Everyone says that middle school is awful, but Trent knows nothing could be worse than the year he had in fifth grade, when a freak accident on Cedar Lake left one kid dead, and Trent with a brain full of terrible thoughts he can't get rid of. Trents pretty positive the entire disaster was his fault, so for him middle school feels like a fresh start, a chance to prove to everyone that he's not the horrible screw-up they seem to think he is.
If only Trent could make that fresh start happen.
It isnt until Trent gets caught up in the whirlwind that is Fallon Littlethe girl with the mysterious scar across her facethat things begin to change. Because fresh starts arent always easy. Even in baseball, when a fly ball gets lost in the sun, you have to remember to shift your position to find it.
Advance praise for Lost in the Sun:
In Lost in the Sun, Trent decides that he will speak the truth: that pain and anger and loss are not the final words, that goodness can find us after alleven when we hide from it. This is a novel that speaks powerfully, honestly, almost shockingly about our human pain and our human redemption. This book will change you.”Gary Schmidt, two-time Newbery Honor-winning author of The Wednesday Wars and Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy
Lisa Graff crafts a compelling story about a boy touched with tragedy and the world of people he cares about. And like all the best stories, it ends at a new beginning.”Richard Peck, Newbery Award-winning author of A Year Down Yonder and A Long Way From Chicago
Lisa Graff's Awards and Reviews:
Lisa Graff's books have been named to 30 state award lists, and A Tangle of Knots was long-listed for the National Book Award.
Praise for Absolutely Almost:
* "Albie comes through significant emotional hardship to a genuine sense of self-worth."--School Library Journal *STARRED*
* "A perfect book to share with struggling readers."--Booklist *STARRED*
* "Achingly superb, Albies story shines."--Kirkus Reviews *STARRED*
* "Graffs...gentle story invokes evergreen themes of coming to appreciate ones 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*
Praise for A Tangle of Knots:
"[A] blithe magical puzzle."--Meghan Cox Gurdon, The Wall Street Journal
"Lisa Graff has created a beautiful world of deliciously interconnected stories that draw you in."--Abby West, Entertainment Weekly [A-]
* "Subtle and intricate, rich with humor and insight, this quietly magical adventure delights."--Kirkus Reviews *STARRED*
* "Combining the literary sensibility of E. B. White with the insouciance of Louis Sachar, Graff has written a tangle that should satisfy readers for years to come."--Booklist *STARRED*
"Spinelli poses searching questions about loyalty to one's friends and oneself and leaves readers to form their own answers." Publishers Weekly
"Once again Spinelli takes his readers on a journey where choices between the self and the group must be made, and he is wise enough to show how hard they are, even when sweet." Kirkus Reviews
"[A] poetic allegorical tale about the magnificence and rarity of true nonconformity." New York Times
"With the book's high school setting and situations, this entertaining and thought-provoking story will appeal to and be enjoyed by junior high and high school readers." VOYA
...solidifies Spinelli's ability to view the world through the lens of a child and weave his observations into a profoundly enriching and thought-provoking novel." Sarah Miller, Powells.com
(read the entire Powells.com review
Stargirl is a true celebration of nonconformity.
This oftentimes tense and emotional story explores the fleeting, cruel nature of popularity and the thrill and inspiration of first love. The questions, discussion topics, and author information that follow are intended to guide readers and spark discussion as they begin to analyze the larger emotional, sociological, and literary elements of this exceptional and thought-provoking novel.
She's as magical as the desert sky. As strange as her pet rat. As mysterious as her own name. From the day she arrives at quiet Mica High School in a burst of color and sound, the hallways hum with the murmur of "Stargirl, Stargirl." She captures Leo Borlock's heart with just one smile. The students of Mica High are enchanted. At first.Then they turn on her. Stargirl is suddenly shunned. And Leo, panicked and desperate with love, urges her to become the very thing that can destroy her: normal.
In the tradition of Out of My Mind
this is an intensely moving middle grade novel about being an outsider, coping with loss, and discovering the true meaning of family.
Willow Chance is a twelve-year-old genius, obsessed with nature and diagnosing medical conditions, who finds it comforting to count by 7s. It has never been easy for her to connect with anyone other than her adoptive parents, but that hasnt kept her from leading a quietly happy life . . . until now.
Suddenly Willows world is tragically changed when her parents both die in a car crash, leaving her alone in a baffling world. The triumph of this book is that it is not a tragedy. This extraordinarily odd, but extraordinarily endearing, girl manages to push through her grief. Her journey to find a fascinatingly diverse and fully believable surrogate family is a joy and a revelation to read.
Holly Goldberg Sloan writes about belonging in a way Ive never quite seen in any other book. This is a gorgeous, funny, and heartwarming novel that Ill never forget.”John Corey Whaley, author of Where Things Come Back
"Willow Chance subtly drew me into her head and her life, so much so that I was holding my breath for her by the end. Holly Goldberg Sloan has created distinct characters who will stay with you long after you finish the book."Sharon Creech, Newbery Award-winning author of Walk Two Moons
"In achingly beautiful prose, Holly Goldberg Sloan has written a delightful tale of transformation thats a celebration of life in all its wondrous, hilarious and confounding glory. Counting by 7s is a triumph."Maria Semple, author of Whered You Go, Bernadette
About the Author
Jerry Spinelli is the author of more than a dozen books for young readers, including Maniac Magee, winner of the Newbery Medal; Wringer, a Newbery Honor Book; Crash; and Knots in My Yo-Yo String, his autobiography. He grew up in Norristown, Pennsylvania, where he once dreamed of becoming a major league baseball player. All of this changed at age 16, when his poem about a football game was published in the local newspaper. From then on, he wanted to become a writer. Jerry's first book for children was published when he was 41 years old. He still lives in Pennsylvania with his "Stargirl," his wife, Eileen Spinelli, who is also an author of children's books.
Reading Group Guide
1. As the saying goes, "love is blind." How is this truly the case with Leo and Stargirl? Looking back, how can you tell that Leo was falling for her? And does he stay in love with her, even after she moves away?
2. Professor Archie Brubaker is the voice of reason throughout the novel. Archie has many thoughtful insights into the personality of Stargirl, and at one point says about her: "You'll know her more by your questions than by her answers. Keep looking at her long enough. One day you might see someone you know." Now that you've finished the novel, what do you think Archie means by this statement?
3. While Stargirl is a guest on "Hot Seat," Kevin asks her why she changed her name. Do you accept her reason why she did this? How is "Stargirl" an ideal name for her? Think about the possibility of changing your name several times. Do you think your name is an integral part of who you are, or can you imagine yourself with another one?
4. In the beginning, Hillari Kimble seems to be the only person who openly dislikes Stargirl. But then others begin to feel the same way as Hillari. Do you think that groups of people need a leader, like Hillari Kimble, to turn opinions against another person?
5. Do you, as a reader, like Stargirl? If you were a student at Mica High, would you reach out to her like Dori Dilson, or reject her like Hillari Kimble? Do you think the students of Mica High are ultimately too harsh on Stargirl?
6. Popularity, fitting in, and "sameness" are all key themes in Stargirl. Find places in the novel that reinforce these themes and discuss. Do you think Stargirl ever wanted to be popular? How might she define popularity?
7. After Stargirl changes back to "Susan," Leo says "she looked magnificently, wonderfully, gloriously ordinary. She looked just like a hundred other girls at Mica High--I had never been so happy and proud in my whole life." How did you feel when you read this part of the novel?
8. Author Jerry Spinelli plays two major events in the novel off of each other: the basketball championships and the oratorical contest. After Stargirl wins the oratorical contest, Leo says that "the cheering is as wild as that of the crowd at a championship basketball game." Stargirl is the focus at both events but in very different ways. How is she rejected at one and accepted at the other? And how does this acceptance ultimately lead to rejection?
9. The Ocotillo Ball at the end of the novel represents a turning point. Do you think Stargirl made a deliberate attempt to say good-bye at the ball? What do you make of the students' behavior at the ball, and what does this tell you about the student body of Mica High as a whole?
10. Archie says about Stargirl, "Star people are rare. You'll be lucky to meet another." Do you think Leo was grown-up enough for his relationship with Stargirl? How about the students of Mica High? Will Leo ever figure Stargirl out?
11. What is the irony at the end of Stargirl? Is Stargirl popular after all? What happens to the "popular" kids in the story-do they stay popular?