What's the right kind of kid?
For some parents it's the kid they wish they had been. For some parents it's the kid who is social, outgoing, loves sports, and has a lot of friends. That last kid - the super extravert/extrovert - is the one eleven-year old Ware's parents want him to be.
Ware's dad wants Ware to watch the games with him. Ware's mom wants him to make an ocean of friends. Neither parent seems to see who Ware is or maybe doesn't want to see who Ware is.
Up until now Ware has been okay. He's been living by the Code of the Knights. He's been able to spend his free time with his grandmother, a forceful personality, known to the family as Big Deal. Big Deal gives Ware room to be himself. She shares with him. She sees him. He's a happy camper.
Until now that is. Now, Big Deal has fallen, is getting two new hips and is going to spend some serious time in rehab. Since Ware's parents both work, Ware has to be put somewhere. It's summer and Ware's mom, the efficiency expert, has found him a terrific summer camp where she is sure Ware will spend his days having Meaningful Social Interaction. One day of being dropped off at the camp, convinces Ware that he's done with that.
Luckily he climbs a tree out back and spots someone out behind the camp building. That someone is Jolene, a girl with a lot of spunk and a girl who does not let herself live in Magic Fairness Land. She's had enough reality in her life to convince her that life is not fair and she isn't ever going to trust that it will be. She's going to take her life in her own hands and make a papaya plantation out of the rotten papayas the local grocer gives her.
After all, "Everything was something else before."
What starts out as a demolished church, filled with rubble, quickly becomes something special to Ware and Jolene. Ware is delighted to help Jolene and then the day comes when they learn they need to build a moat around the church to save sandhill cranes who will eventually migrate through this area and might crash land on the dark pavement left of the church parking lot...the crashing and the landing could prove fatal.
For Ware the moat holds an even more powerful hope. The moat may just be the place where he can jump in, get baptized and be transformed into a new person - a person who is normal. He will be reborn.
It's an amazingly uncomfortable, energy sapping thing when you feel like the odd one out. It's an amazingly discouraging thing when you can't figure out who you really are but you sure as heck know you aren't "right" as far as your parents are concerned. How many of us have wished we could be someone other than ourselves? How many of us believed if we could change one thing maybe (like Genesis in Genesis Begins Again), just maybe, then we'd be loved.
Every one of us needs to know we are valuable just as we are. Every one of us needs to know we belong even without being the biggest talker or the one with the most yearbook signatures. Every one of us deserves someone special to hold out a hand either figuratively or literally and let us know we aren't alone in the world. We have a friend. We are liked and maybe even we are loved.
"Hoo boy. Tell me about it."
For Ware who is content with the enormous map of the world inside of himself, every day delivers a message that he is too different, not measuring up to the parental expectation chart, and just basically isn't normal. But his do-over moat may work the miracle.
Finally, for Ware that hand might finally be reaching out and it might be meant for him. Finally for Ware, just maybe, he'll discover he is normal....and most important of all, just maybe, for the first time he'll believe he is the right kind of kid.
Recommended by: Barb Langridge, abookandahug.com
**************** < strong>From the author of the highly acclaimed, New York Times bestselling novel Pax comes a gorgeous and moving middle grade novel that is an ode to introverts, dreamers, and misfits everywhere.
Ware can’t wait to spend summer “off in his own world”—dreaming of knights in the Middle Ages and generally being left alone. But then his parents sign him up for dreaded Rec camp, where he must endure Meaningful Social Interaction and whatever activities so-called “normal” kids do.
On his first day Ware meets Jolene, a tough, secretive girl planting a garden in the rubble of an abandoned church next to the camp. Soon he starts skipping Rec, creating a castle-like space of his own in the church lot.
Jolene scoffs, calling him a dreamer—he doesn’t live in the “real world” like she does. As different as Ware and Jolene are, though, they have one thing in common: for them, the lot is a refuge.
But when their sanctuary is threatened, Ware looks to the knights’ Code of Chivalry: Thou shalt do battle against unfairness wherever faced with it. Thou shalt be always the champion of the Right and Good—and vows to save the lot.
But what does a hero look like in real life? And what can two misfit kids do?---from the publisher
320 pages 978-0062698957 Ages 9-13
Keywords: being yourself, identity, introverts, dreamers, social skills, heroes, friendship, feelings, coming of age, standing up for yourself, heroes, activists, summer, 9 year old, 10 year old, 11 year old, 12 year old