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Sunday, January 27, 2013


Although I'm not great about reviewing on Goodreads, I do try to post my reviews on Amazon and, if I remember, Barnes and Noble. (I've learned that actual buyers of books often use these sites!) 

One of my intentions for 2013 is to share more reviews on my blog. 
Here goes my first:

By Ashley Edward Miller and Zack Stentz
(Razorbill, 2012)

I sense a series in the making. And we all know how young readers pine for more books about a character who solves mysteries while makes them laugh out loud.

Colin Fischer is just such a kid. Diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, the 14-year-old doesn't want to be touched, hates the color blue, and has a mind for mysteries, the kind he can research and work out to the most minute detail. His "precious, dog-eared Notebook… had seen better days, though it had been fastidiously cared for." In it, he records facts, friends, reactions. Each entry about a new discovery is often punctuated by the simple command: Investigate.

And investigate he does. When someone shoots off a gun at a birthday celebration in the school cafeteria, Colin carefully works out the mystery. The incident leads him—and a surprising friend—on an adventure.

But at its heart, the book makes you laugh. Told in clever notebook entries, footnotes (which could possibly be a distraction to kids, but added an additional layer of interest for this grown-up reader), as well as Colin's constant flash-card facial clues to help him read his classmates' emotional states-of-mind, the novel is kid-friendly and fun to read.

But of course, there are serious layers to this story. A possible budding romance. Bullying which doesn't end well for Colin. An exceptional boy who's mostly figured out how to cope. A gun in school. As Colin copes with things he never expected to tolerate, the novel challenges many of the stereotypes about autistic kids; it could well open an avenue for serious discussion.

My criticism? I wasn't fond of the way the parents were portrayed. I wished for August's dad in Wonder. I wanted more understanding, more humor, less wine-drinking and adult behavior. And I hope if Colin continues his sleuthing into a second book, the writers will re-consider the character of Colin's younger brother. Yes, I know how difficult it would be to have a brother who embarrasses you on a regular basis, but Danny was downright unlikable.

As a writer, I was bothered some by the switches in point-of-view. These are the things that trouble writers who try to read for fun, or for any other reason! 
I don't think a young reader will notice.

Colin Fisher has much to recommend it. A funny, cleverly put together book, just right for older middle grade readers. And don't you love that cover?


pixelsandpoetry said...

I liked but did not love this one and my reservations mostly revolved around the Asperger's Aspect. I am by no means an expert but have worked fairly closely with a few students and, he didn't quite ring true for me.


Kimberley Griffiths Little said...

Interesting review, Augusta, thank you. I'm looking forward to reading this one - and having my Asperger son read it. I'll let you know what he thinks. Did it surprise you or disappoint you that WONDER didn't get any sort of award today? I was thinking it would get "something".