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E-book ed. ISBN 978-1-4814-8927-0 $10.99
Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 4-6
When Ethan stands up next to his desk instead of sitting down during a long and boring class, the seventh-grader is just feeling weary and restless. Soon, however, his actions take on momentum: he’s given Reflection (the school’s answer to detention), he’s encouraged by the science teacher to take action, and he and his best friend sign up for the science fair with a plan to make a “desk-evator” that allows students to sit or stand at will. Since that’s an unusual move for average, go-along-to-get-along Ethan, it throws off the dynamic between him and his overthinking, overachieving sister, Erin, who’s also preparing for the science fair, and ends up affecting several other kids in his orbit. As she did in Calli Be Gold (BCCB 5/11), Hurwitz takes a perceptive look at a preteen’s new awareness of the role he’s been playing and the possibility for changing it (“When did I become . . . the laid-back guy who never takes anything all that seriously because . . . it’s just easier not to?” Ethan asks). The shifting narration (among Ethan and Erin, their two best friends, and the outcast who joins Ethan in Reflection) is smartly effective at giving insight into the friction between brother and sister over the science fair and beyond, and the point that you can’t externally see what drives people is a helpful nudge to empathy. Taking conceptual exploration into the emotional intelligence range, this could be a thoughtful next step for readers of Andrew Clements.