Isaiah Dunn Saves the Day

Crown. Aug. 2022. 192p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780593429211.
Gr 4-8–In this sequel to Isaiah Dunn Is My Hero, Isaiah enters middle school. His life has stabilized, family has a permanent place to stay with a family friend, and mother is sober and going to school. A teacher strongly encourages Isaiah and his friend (and former bully), Angel, to mentor struggling fifth graders. Isaiah’s mentee, Kobe, is resistant to participating and Isaiah struggles to know how to help him. Meanwhile, Isaiah is able to watch the man who runs the barbershop where he works mentor an older teen from the community, which serves as a model of what help can look like. All these moving parts come together as Isaiah recognizes that his gifts and experience can be used in small but heroic ways to help Kobe. The characters are realistically drawn and learn lessons from their mistakes. While it would be helpful to read these two volumes in order, this novel stands on its own as a portrait of a boy who has been through difficult things and has received the love and support he needs from his community, enabling him to thrive and help others around him who may also be struggling.
VERDICT A worthy addition to middle grade fiction collections, especially where books like Jason Reynold’s “Track” series is popular.

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