Author: Wolkenstein, M. Evan
Seventh-grader Will's Bar Mitzvah community service project, visiting an incurably ill older boy in the hospital, leads to a friendship that is life-changing for both them and those around them.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 4.40
Points: 11.0 Quiz: 508540
Kirkus Reviews (03/01/20)
School Library Journal (00/05/20)
Booklist (+) (05/15/20)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 05/01/2020 Gr 5 Up—Will Levine is a seventh grader with several problems. He is bullied severely by his classmates for his small chin, his former science teacher discovers he has been hoarding wild turtles in his room from the marsh behind school, and now he's being forced to spend his spare time in the hospital visiting a terminally ill boy, RJ, as a community service project for his upcoming bar mitzvah. Will has an intense phobia of hospitals because his dad died in one when he was young; he is also fearful of an upcoming surgery he needs for medical reasons. However, RJ may be just the person to help Will shift his perspective and gain confidence. RJ asks Will to complete his bucket list on his behalf; Will dutifully forces himself to try new things (attending a rock concert, riding a roller coaster, attending a school dance, and playing drums at a talent show). Through this process, Will and RJ become close friends, which makes the idea of saying goodbye even more difficult. VERDICT A strong debut novel about grief, loss, and coming out of one's shell.—Laura Gardner, Dartmouth Middle School, MA - Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 05/15/2020 *Starred Review* The school bullies call 13-year-old Will “Turtle Boy,” not because he loves turtles but because, they say, he looks like one. Will has a condition called “micrognathia with aplasia of the mandibular condyles,” which means he has only a nub for a chin. The only thing he hates more than his chin is hospitals, because his dad died in one when Will was four. So it’s ironic that Rabbi Harris insists Will complete 40 hours of community service—yes, at the hospital—before his bar mitzvah. His service? Visiting a desperately ill boy. Their initial meetings don’t go well; Will finds the boy, RJ, to be impatient and rude. Gradually, though, the two begin a cautious friendship as RJ teaches Will to play the drums. And then something unforeseen happens: RJ asks Will to perform the wishes on RJ’s bucket list so the dying boy can experience them vicariously. All of them will test Will, such as “ride a roller coaster”; of course, Will is afraid of heights and speed. Will he come out of his metaphorical shell and help his friend? Debut author Wolkenstein’s well-plotted novel is a model of acute psychology and fully formed characters, even minor ones. The tone, too, is just right, and incidents are seamlessly integrated. Turtle Boy—both boy and book—is a winner. - Copyright 2020 Booklist.