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Better Than Weird
By author: Anna Kerz
Selling Points: "friendship, bullying, self-control, family"
Publisher: Orca Book Publishers
Pub Date: Mar/01/2011
Pages: 224
Fiction Ages 9-12
Price:  $9.95
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That's when he saw it. A shadow behind a car parked on the other side of the street. It disappeared, only to reappear through the window of the car ahead. The sight of it made him whimper, the sound catching in his throat as he took off again, running.

This time he didn't stop until he reached the walkway to his house. Home, he thought. Home safe. But with his next step his foot landed on an icy patch. His arms rose instinctively, whirling, struggling for balance. It did no good. The ground below him vanished, and he fell. Pain, red as a fireball, exploded behind his eyes. He yelped.

Behind him, the voice said, "Gotcha now."

In this stand-alone sequel to The Mealworm Diaries, Aaron is anxiously waiting for his father to return for the first time since Aaron's mother's death eight years earlier. Aaron works hard with a counselor at school, but he still has problems getting along with and understanding other kids, and he's worried that his dad will think he's weird. As well as having to confront Tufan, the class bully, Aaron must find ways to cope with the fact that his dad now has a pregnant wife and his beloved Gran needs surgery. In the end, his greatest strength is not his intelligence or his sense of humor, but the openness and warmth of his heart.
BookLinx - January 30, 2012
"A good book, with some mystery and action...Interesting and easy to follow."
CanLit for Little Canadians blog - November 24, 2011
"Kerz compassionately shares Aaron's struggles and joys while illustrating the different perceptions others have of him and how these perceptions impact his own views and responses."
Canadian Teacher - October 1, 2011
"The twists and turns in this short novel paint a compelling picture of the difficulties of growing up, and provide a unique perspective."
Canadian Children's Book News - August 1, 2011
"Kerz manages to create an endearing protagonist whom we want to succeed. By writing from Aaron's point of view, Kerz helps readers understand the daily struggles faced by a child who has always been teased, bullied and chosen last...We feel deeply for him. This is a story that all children who have struggled to fit in will appreciate and a tale that will perhaps garner empathy and understanding in those who know children like Aaron."
School Library Journal - May 1, 2011
"Kerz succeeds beautifully at crafting a convincing narrative centered on the life of a 12-year-old boy who cannot control his behavior...Aaron's voice is convincing as a child desperate to understand his surroundings. Supporting characters, from Aaron's father to his classmates, are also realistically portrayed."
VOYA - April 1, 2011
"The plot moves at a good pace, interweaving the stories of Aaron waiting to meet his father that abandoned him, learning how to make and keep a friend, and resolving conflict with a bully...This is a good choice for someone who has some of the same issues as the protagonist or needs help understanding someone who does."
Booklist - April 1, 2011
"In a long line of recent books about kids with autism, Kerz's effort nevertheless shines, primarily because in Aaron she has created a kid who captures readers' complete interest as he struggles with his quirks and tries to be, as the title puts it, better than weird...Life's complications are delicately handled by Kerz, who weaves a multilayered tale...A heartwarming read for fans of realistic fiction."
by: Deirdre Baker, - March 12, 2011
"With warmth and understanding, Kerz presents Aaron's brave, hopeful efforts to understand others, inviting us to sympathize with his uncertainties about 'reading' people and about learning how to manage his own enthusiasm appropriately."
Quill & Quire - March 1, 2011
[Starred review] "Aaron doesn't know his father at all. He is both excited and terrified by the impending reunion—and so are we...Kerz is brilliant at describing these challenges from Aaron's perspective, and she does so without a trace of sentimentality...It's a messy and far from perfect outcome for Aaron, but after spending some time with his own messy imperfections, we wouldn't have it any other way."
CM Magazine - February 25, 2011
"A stand-alone sequel to Anna Kerz's excellent Mealworm Diaries. Aaron is a credible, well-rounded character, as are Gran, Tufan, Dad, and all of the other characters. Better Than Weird is simply told, yet rich with wonderful metaphors and believable surprises. Kerz's style makes this a story that will appeal to readers of all levels. Highly Recommended."
Kirkus Reviews - February 15, 2011
"This moving story looks at both family and school life from the point of view of a boy trying hard to fit into a world he doesn't quite understand...The details of school life are believable and familiar, and the ending leaves Aaron and readers waiting for a hopeful outcome...This companion book [to The Mealworm Diaries] stands alone but will surely send readers back to read the first."
Resource Links - February 1, 2011
"The story moves quickly and for those who enjoyed the humour in The Mealworm Diaries, they will certainly enjoy this title...Would be a good addition to a young readers' fiction collection in both school and public libraries. Aaron Waite is a unique, well-formed character who, like Joey Pigza in Jack Gantos' Joey Series, captures our sympathy and we read on because we want him to succeed."


Silver Birch Award nominee, short-listed  CA  2012
OLA Best Bets, commended  CA  2011
Notable Books for a Global Society Book Award, winner  US  2012
SYRCA Diamond Willow nominee, short-listed  CA  2012
CCBC Best Books starred selection, commended  CA  2012
Bank Street College of Education Best Children's Books of the Year, commended  US  2012

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