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Fiction Ages 8-12
Pages: 168
Themes: Bullying, racism, friendship
Publisher: Orca Book Publishers
Pub Date: 01/10/2008
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Brandon is the biggest and toughest kid in his small-town school. He is feared as a bully, but he only pretends to be "dumb as a bag of hammers," so he can learn as much as possible about the people around him. When Leon, his sister Winnie, and their lively little brother Sam, arrive in Kingsville, they are the only black people in town. Everyone is curious about them—where they came from, what their parents do—but when Brandon discovers the truth about their situation, he decides to do what he can to protect them from harm.

Canadian Children's Book News - April 1, 2009
"A fine read. The plot unfolds episodically but smoothly - with both action and humour...The real strength is Brandon's completely authentic voice."
School Library Journal - February 1, 2009
"The kind of book that might well appeal to boys who are having trouble in school, but trying to find other ways to make a difference in the world. The author's simple, unadorned style makes it a good choice for reluctant readers."
VOYA - February 1, 2009
"In his funny and touching novel, Schmidt thoughtfully crafts characters to whom readers will relate. The book's tone is frank when dealing with serious issues yet retains a certain innocence."
The Bookmark (BCTLA) - February 1, 2009
"A rewarding story credibly anchored in the realism of school procedures established by the author... Highly recommended."
CBC Radio's All Points West - December 11, 2008
"Tremendous fun to read... truly heartwarming."
Resource Links - December 1, 2008
"A novel about growing up and putting others first. The characters are both endearing and realistic."
CM Magazine - November 21, 2008
"With his debut novel, René Schmidt gives voice to the children who fall through the cracks, whose struggles go unnoticed, whose responsibilities deprive them of the luxuries of childhood...An engaging read that teachers will love to discuss with their students. Recommended."

Awards

IODE Violet Downey Book Award nominee  | 2009 | Short-listed
Red Maple Award nominee  | 2010 | Short-listed
CCBC Best Books  | 2010 | Commended

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