Trouble with a Tiny t

Capstone. Mar. 2021. 320p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781684462810.
Gr 4-6–Fifth grader Westin has more than his share of trouble. He’s caught in the middle of his divorced parents’ fights. His ADHD, which he refers to as “vacation brain,” has caused tensions both at school and in his friendships. His Uncle Marty, an explorer who understood him better than most people, is missing and presumed dead. While rummaging through Marty’s belongings, Westin encounters a magical pouch that conjures objects. As he tries to understand the pouch, Westin unintentionally creates a miniature but rapidly growing T. rex that he must feed, tame, and hide from his mother. Adding this burden to the many he is already carrying proves to be almost impossible and it is only with help of Leonora, a new student in his “Friendship Group’’ for students with behavioral problems, that he begins to understand not only how to control the pouch and manage the T. rex, but also what it means to be a friend. Told from Westin’s point of view, readers are treated to his unique and often humorous perspective. The action-packed novel takes place in just a week, with the pace complementing the over-the-top absurdity of the plot. Saunders skillfully balances fantasy and with real-life themes, and multiple characters develop a greater sense of self-awareness throughout the novel. Westin’s evolving understanding of his ADHD is poignant, and his emerging friendship with Leonora adds a welcome warmth. Readers may see this pair in the future, as the ending sets itself up well for a sequel. Leonora is cued as white and Westin is described only has having brown hair.
VERDICT Young readers will enjoy the fantastical and humorous components of the novel, but there is plenty they will also relate to, as well.

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