Bound To Stay Bound

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 Matylda, bright & tender
 Author: McGhee, Holly M.

 Publisher:  Candlewick Press (2017)

 Classification: Fiction
 Physical Description: 210 p.,  20 cm

 BTSB No: 624987 ISBN: 9780763689513
 Ages: 8-12 Grades: 3-7

 Friendship -- Fiction
 Best friends -- Fiction
 Leopard geckos as pets -- Fiction

Price: $6.50

Explores the loss that shakes one girl's world--and the unexpected consequences of the things we do for love.

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Accelerated Reader Information:
   Interest Level: MG
   Reading Level: 4.20
   Points: 5.0   Quiz: 190733
Reading Counts Information:
   Interest Level: 3-5
   Reading Level: 3.50
   Points: 11.0   Quiz: 75169

   Kirkus Reviews (12/01/16)
   School Library Journal (02/01/17)
   Booklist (01/01/17)
 The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (A) (01/17)

Full Text Reviews:

Bulletin for the Center... - 01/01/2017 Fourth-graders Sussy and Guy have been besties since they were six, so when they both want a pet, they decide to essentially coparent. Sussy defers to Guy’s choice of a leopard gecko and she’s a little put out when the creature, dubbed Matylda, seems to have no real affection for her but happily clambers onto Guy. Then, however, Guy dies in a bike accident and a grief-stricken Sussy must figure out how to love their seemingly cranky, indifferent pet. Sussy’s grief is authentically messy, moving from total despair to anger to confusion, both about her future and Matylda’s, and though her moods seem to swing where the plot needs them, she’s still a likable heroine. The supporting cast, however, is made up of flat, completely unbelievable characters, particularly Sussy’s happy-go-lucky parents, who seem in an awful hurry to move their daughter’s healing process along with platitudes and generic reassurance, and Guy’s mother, who only shows up for the exact moment Sussy needs her. This is nonetheless a thoughtful exploration of moving on after loss, and the pet-care element offers an interesting twist. KQG - Copyright 2017 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.

Booklist - 01/01/2017 A fascination with herpetology might be a prerequisite for enjoying this middle-grade novel told from the viewpoint of spirited 10-year-old Susquehanna Indiana Reed, who loses her closest friend. A visit to the pet store ends with Sussy and Guy adopting a leopard gecko, whom the pair name Matylda (“With a y so it’s all her own,” insists Guy), and they quickly cook up a fanciful origin story for their pet. Readers will learn a whole lot about the care and feeding of geckos, until a bike accident leads to Guy’s death, and Sussy is left alone with the pet they were supposed to share. We never get a real sense of Guy, loyal paragon that he appears, and Sussy’s intense—­but, by nature, one-sided—attempts to bond with the reptile verge on magical realism. At times, her coping strategies are disturbingly dark, but this tackles grief for the middle-grade set in much the same way as Ali Benjamin’s The Thing about Jellyfish (2015). As a simple preadolescent love story, it’s refreshing. - Copyright 2017 Booklist.

School Library Journal - 02/01/2017 Gr 4–6—Sussy and Guy are as close as two friends can be. They share everything, even their pet leopard gecko, Matylda, who lives at Sussy's house but is more comfortable with Guy. The tale takes an early tragic turn when Guy is killed in an accident while trying to save Sussy from being attacked by a dog. Sussy is devastated. To deal with the loss of her best friend, she turns her attention to Matylda, who she believes is suffering similarly. As Sussy tries to heal from the emotional desolation, a new facet of her personality takes shape. "The stealing girl" convinces Sussy to compulsively take things for Matylda from the pet store. Sussy's self-destructive focus on Matylda ultimately results in an outburst that injures her, revealing the depth of the emotional conflict, which drives the remainder of the story. Both Sussy and Guy are creative, intelligent characters, and this novel is a good fit for sensitive middle grade readers. With Guy's death occurring in the first quarter of the book, the bulk of the plot centers on Sussy's experience processing grief and living with loss rather than on Guy's death. The narrative is told from Sussy's point of view, and it is a treat to experience the world from her poetic and imaginative perspective. McGhee's depictions of grief and loss are authentic, as are the responses of Sussy's parents, who are unsure of how to comfort their daughter. The emergence of the "stealing girl," who motivates Sussy's uncharacteristic actions, lends itself to thought-provoking discussions, making this a good read-aloud or book club selection. VERDICT This honest and sensitive offering about grief touches on many difficult topics that, while resolved by the conclusion, may require follow-up conversations with a trusted adult.—Juliet Morefield, Multnomah County Library, OR - Copyright 2017 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.

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