For fans of Wonder, Chris Baron's The Magical Imperfect is an affecting middle grade story of two outcasts who become friends...
Etan has stopped speaking since his mother left. His father and grandfather don't know how to help him. His friends have given up on him. When Etan is asked to deliver a grocery order to the outskirts of town, he realizes he's at the home of Malia Agbayani, also known as the Creature.
Malia stopped going to school when her acute eczema spread to her face, and the bullying became too much. As the two become friends, other kids tease Etan for knowing the Creature. But he believes he might have a cure for Malia's condition, if only he can convince his family and hers to believe it too. Even if it works, will these two outcasts find where they fit in?
It’s autumn 1989 in the San Francisco Bay Area, the Giants have a chance at the World Series, and small earthquakes are occurring with increasing frequency. After his mother is admitted to a hospital ("The roads/ her thoughts take/ are too windy"), 12-year-old Etan, a budding artist, largely stops speaking. Since his father works construction all day, Etan spends afternoons with his Jewish grandfather, who immigrated from Prague in 1940; Etan watches him repair jewelry, listens to his musings on faith and the old days, and runs errands for the neighbors. One errand leads him to the home of Malia Agbayani, a solitary Filipina girl known cruelly among schoolchildren as "the creature" due to her acute eczema. Etan and Malia quickly bond; he admires her singing, she his artwork, and as their friendship deepens, they find solace and support-and, in the nearby forest, seek a magical cure for Malia’s skin. Telling Etan’s story in first-person verse, Baron (All of Me) creates a close-knit community of adults and authentic intergenerational relationships, but it is Etan’s honest and lovable voice, and its growing strength, that carries this tender novel. An extensive author’s note discusses the earthquake of October 1989 and the history of Angel Island. Ages 9-12.
Copyright 2021 Publisher’s Weekly, LLC Used with permission.
Gr 3-7-The whole town eagerly watches the 1989 baseball playoffs, but Etan is unable to fully engage. Since his mother left, Etan has neither the energy nor the will to speak. He spends most of his time with his grandfather in his jewelry shop on Main Street and with the shopkeepers who are accepting of his silence. Delivering a package to a house outside of town, Etan encounters Malia, known by kids as "the Creature" because of the eczema that covers her body. She invites him in to meet her grandmother, a refugee from the Philippines who befriended Etan's Jewish grandparents when they were escaping the horrors of the war in 1940. As this new friendship grows, Etan wants to help Malia's eczema get better with his grandfather's special clay, and to help her gain the confidence to sing at the local talent show. An earthquake that hits that day shakes everything up, but ultimately leads to Etan finding his voice, and Malia using hers to share her story. VERDICT Written in first person, this lyrical novel-in-verse invites readers into Etan's world, who will be drawn in by his very silence and how friendship relies on listening just as much as speaking.
Copyright 2021 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.
Praise for All of Me:A Southern California Independent Booksellers Association BESTSELLER!