This is a fantastic, fantastic upper middle grade…more Let me just say for the record that I predict next year at this time, when we’re all guessing about the 2011 book awards, this title comes up in the conversation quite a bit.  I’ll also say, in the interest of full disclosure, that I know and like the author a whole lot.  Bonnie Shimko is a warm, funny, kind person in addition to being a seriously talented writer. This is her third novel for kids and teens, and while I liked the other two a lot…THE PRIVATE THOUGHTS OF AMELIA E. RYE has absolutely won my heart.

Just one true friend… That’s all Amelia E. Rye’s grandfather says she needs, and when Fancy Nelson comes to town, Amelia knows that it’s true. Fancy is the first black kid Amelia’s ever seen, and she seems to have everything that Amelia lacks…courage, no-holds-barred confidence, and unconditional love from her family. With Fancy beside her, the world looks a little different to Amelia, a little brighter, and a little braver.

This is a fantastic, fantastic upper middle grade novel – great for ages 10 and up – and really, it’s one of those titles that adult book clubs should pick up, too. The characterization is as close to perfect as I’ve seen in a novel for kids, vivid and rich and never stereotypical, and the writing is just brilliant — laugh-out-loud funny one moment and heartbreaking the next. I’m so thankful to have spent some time in Amelia’s world and can’t wait for April so I can share her with my students. This is a really special book.

(Reviewed from an ARC that I was lucky enough to pick up at NCTE… and due out from FSG in April 2010)

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