January 30, 2015

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Pick of the Day: Counting by 7s | Audio

Counting by 7s audioSloan, Holly Goldberg. Counting by 7s. 6 CDs. 7:15 hrs. Dreamscape Media. 2013. $59.99. ISBN 9781624069024. digital download.
Gr 5-8–Willow Chance is an extraordinary child whose tragic story could have been heartbreakingly sad, but is instead hopeful and inspirational. The 12-year-old genius who is obsessed with the number seven, strangers’ medical conditions, and her lush garden in the middle of an otherwise-barren neighborhood in Bakersfield, California, has no friends. Her loving adopted parents are her only family. While she knows that her idiosyncratic behavior tends to draw the ridicule of her peers, she is self-confident and hopeful that she can make a fresh start and find friends in her new school. Unfortunately, she gets a perfect score on a state test in an amazingly short time, causing her new teachers to accuse her of cheating, and she is sent to counseling sessions with the ineffectual Dell Duke. There, Willow meets Mai Nguyen and her trouble-making brother, Quang-ha. When Willow’s parents are tragically killed and she seems headed to a group home, the Nguyen family takes her in. As she gradually learns to put down roots, she draws together a nurturing community of culturally diverse characters whose interactions with Willow cause each to find the strength to make positive changes in his or her own life. Robin Miles creates a believable cast of characters with appropriate accents and tones, voicing Willow’s grief, pain, and eventual hopefulness with great emotion. She brilliantly brings to life Sloan’s moving tale (Dial, 2013) of tragedy, resilience, and the power of a loving, supportive community.–MaryAnn Karre, West Middle School, Binghamton, NY

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