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|Benefits of being an octopus|
Author: Braden, Ann
Seventh-grader Zoey Albro focuses on caring for three younger siblings and avoiding rich classmates at school until her fascination with octopuses gets her on the debate team and she begins to speak out.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 4.90
Points: 8.0 Quiz: 198616
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 6-8
Reading Level: 4.70
Points: 15.0 Quiz: 75834
School Library Journal (+) (00/08/18)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 08/01/2018 Gr 5–8—Zoey is a seventh grader in rural Vermont. Her mother works a low-wage job and the family is impoverished. Zoey must care for her three younger siblings, there often isn't enough food to eat, and her clothes are almost never clean. Completing homework is often impossible. On top of all this, they live with her mother's boyfriend, Lenny, who is moody and sometimes mean. Zoey knows that if she could be like an octopus, her favorite animal, she would be better able to handle all these demands, as well as camouflage herself when necessary. Zoey's English teacher reaches out and convinces her to join the school debate club. While the protagonist is reluctant at first, she finds she enjoys it. Over time, she learns about debate tactics, like discrediting your opponent, and realizes that Lenny has been manipulating her mother. Another plot point involves gunshots in the school parking lot, which are blamed on a student who lives in the same trailer park as Zoey. This heartbreaking, beautifully written book about finding one's voice will offer some readers a relatable reflection and others a window that can help build empathy and understanding. VERDICT Braden's story raises many thought-provoking and timely questions about the difficulty of escaping poverty and the prevalence of gun violence. Highly recommended.—Laura Gardner, Dartmouth Middle School, MA - Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 09/01/2018 Seventh-grader Zoey doesn’t think she’s as good as other kids at school who have nice things. She also doesn’t have the inclination to do homework because she’s too busy taking care of her siblings—Bryce (four), Aurora (three), and baby Hector—all offspring of different fathers. They and their mother live in a trailer with Mom’s fussy bully of a boyfriend, Lenny, and his cantankerous father. When Zoey’s social-studies teacher makes her join the school debate club, she begins to see situations with fresh eyes and from both sides—an ability she courageously applies to the gun debate after a school lockdown occurs. She also comes to understand that instead of succumbing to Lenny’s intimidation, Zoey’s mother has choices, including moving out and getting a protection order. This engrossing debut novel, narrated by the resourceful Zoey, takes the reader on her journey from the dire side of the class divide to a life of cautious hope as she learns the world is big enough for choices, actions, and results. - Copyright 2018 Booklist.