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Author: Magoon, Kekla
Ella is caught between choosing popularity with the new kid in class, Bailey, the only other black kid, and the unpopularity of being friends with her lifetime friend, Z.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 3.70
Points: 5.0 Quiz: 142973
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 3-5
Reading Level: 3.40
Points: 11.0 Quiz: 51024
Common Core Standards
Grade 4 → Reading → RL Literature → 4.RL Key Ideas & Details
Grade 4 → Reading → RL Literature → 4.RL Craft & Structure
Grade 4 → Reading → RL Literature → 4.RL Integration & Knowledge of Ideas
Grade 4 → Reading → RL Literature → Texts Illustrating the Complexity, Quality, & Rang
Grade 6 → Reading → RL Literature → 6.RL Range of Reading & Level of Text Complexity
Grade 6 → Reading → CCR College & Career Readiness Anchor Standards fo
Grade 7 → Reading → RL Literature → 7.RL Key Ideas & Details
Grade 7 → Reading → RL Literature → 7.RL Range of Reading & LEvel of Text Complexity
Grade 7 → Reading → RL Literature → 7.RL Craft & Structure
Grade 8 → Reading → RL Literature → 8.RL Key Ideas & Details
Grade 7 → Reading → CCR College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Reading
Grade 8 → Reading → RL Literature → 8.RL Craft & Structure
Kirkus Reviews (+) (12/01/10)
School Library Journal (01/01/11)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (03/11)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 01/01/2011 Gr 5–8—The lone African American in her Nevada junior high school, sixth-grader Ella struggles with self-image, bullying, and shifting friendships. Tormented by the vitiligo on her face, she shuns mirrors and feels ostracized. Her one true friend is Zachariah (Z), a homeless loner classmate whose imaginative fantasies mask his troubled emotional state. When Bailey James, also African American, enrolls in her school and befriends Ella, her world begins to change. Ella is drawn to Bailey's popularity and friendship but doesn't want to lose Z. When he disappears, Ella and Bailey secretly hop a bus to Las Vegas to find him. Along the way, Ella discovers that Bailey has secrets and fears of his own. The three children have maternal support and love but miss their fathers. Ella's died young; Z's, a gambler, abandoned his family; and Bailey's soldier father is in treatment for PTSD. Ella's coming-of-age narrative reveals her growing awareness of the complexities of life and the burdens each person carries. Magoon writes with insight, wit, and compassion. Characters are appealing; action is well paced; and adolescent angst is palpable. Although Ella's skin condition and Z's psychological problems are not clearly defined, the trauma of both is conveyed. Ella is caught between a desire to hang out with Bailey and the popular crowd or remain loyal to eccentric Z, and her actions, musings, and guilt will resonate with readers.—Gerry Larson, Durham School of the Arts, NC - Copyright 2011 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 02/01/2011 Ella, Zachary, and Bailey are learning to live without their fathers. Ella keeps her head down at school as she mourns, partly to hide her uneven skin tone and partly to avoid connecting with anyone other than Z, her fragile best friend. When Bailey moves into town, Ella doesn’t just find another black kid in an otherwise white town; she gets taken by this outgoing, popular boy who wants to spend time with her, even as he hides his veteran father’s PTSD. Left essentially homeless by his father’s abandonment, Z copes by living in an imaginary world, and when Ella begins spending less time with him and more time with Bailey, he runs away. Ella and Bailey race to find him, and through the experience, Ella begins to understand that what she sees in the mirror is only one aspect of who she is. This novel, by the author of The Rock and the River (2009), is a sensitive, quietly powerful look at discovering inner strength, coping, and thriving—or not—in the face of tragedy. - Copyright 2011 Booklist.
Bulletin for the Center... - 03/01/2011 Sixth-grader Ella is best friends with Z, who helped her deal with the death of her father. Z’s manner of coping, however, marks him as the weird kid; he has retreated into a fantasy space since his own father left, he and his mother lost their home, and they had to move in to the stockroom at the Wal-Mart where his mother works. Now Ella and Z spend all of their free time together, and even though sometimes Ella wants Z to actually face what’s going on, she takes too much comfort in his quirky fantasies, especially when the mean boys at school tease her about the unpigmented patches on her face, to press the issue. Enter Bailey, a cute new guy who wants to be her friend. They are the only two black kids at their school, and Ella longs to be taken up in Bailey’s orbit of cool, but she can’t abandon Z. Bailey pursues Ella’s friendship but doesn’t know what to make of Z; however, when Z disappears, Bailey is the one who guesses where he might have gone. Infused with sadness on every level, this story of bare survival after loss has a quiet intensity that takes it beyond the usual parameters of the school story about bullies, popular kids, and social pariahs. Though Bailey seems old beyond his years, Ella and Z are credibly captured as troubled children who have shut themselves off from adults too consumed by their own sorrow to really notice what’s going on. Ella’s insistent denial that Z is fine, just different, reflects an appropriate level of immaturity with regard to a sixth-grader’s understanding of mental health as well as her selfish need to normalize a behavior that serves her own ends in more ways than one. While Ella’s reflections sometimes seem a bit overly insightful and summary, especially when she considers the various ways that she, Bailey, and Z operate with grownups, these summaries will in fact assist younger readers in understanding the different ways people have of hiding their pain from themselves and others. KC - Copyright 2011 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.