On Thin Ice

Scholastic. Jul. 2019. 240p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780545495905.
Gr 4-7–Life is hard for seventh-grader Ked Easkins. First of all, he has a degenerative back condition that makes his spine curve. Because of this, he feels like he has lost his best friends Maps, Nephi, and Danny. He is endlessly harassed by a stereotypical bully character nicknamed Landrover. And if that isn’t enough for a 13-year-old to endure, his father has just gambled away their rent money. Ked does not let his circumstances get him down for long. He buys the pieces of a sought-after minibike and hatches a plan to use the school’s maker space to rebuild the bike in order to sell it. If this plan works, Ked and his dad won’t have to move, yet again, to a more downsized place. At times, the odds seem in Ked’s favor, but right when it looks like things will work out, they take a downward turn. The topic of bullying is addressed without seeming didactic, and Ked and Landrover end up in a survival situation that helps them understand and change their perspectives of each other. Eventually, Ked is able to fully come to terms with his disability to accept the friendships that have been waiting for him.
VERDICT An engaging coming-of-age story; recommended for general purchase

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