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The Misfits
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About the Author

James Howe is the author of more than ninety books for young readers. Bunnicula, coauthored by his late wife Deborah and published in 1979, is considered a modern classic of children's literature. The author has written six highly popular sequels, along with the spinoff series Tales from the House of Bunnicula and Bunnicula and Friends. Among his other books are picture books such as Horace and Morris but Mostly Dolores and beginning reader series that include the Pinky and Rex and Houndsley and Catina books. He has also written for older readers. The Misfits, published in 2001, inspired the antibullying initiative No Name-Calling Week, as well as three sequels, Totally Joe, Addie on the Inside, and Also Known as Elvis. A common theme in James Howe's books from preschool through teens is the acceptance of difference and being true to oneself. Visit him online at JamesHowe.com.

Bagram Ibatoulline was born in Russia and educated at the Moscow State Academic Art Institute. His first book was Philip Booth's Crossing, named a 2001 Best Book by Publishers Weekly. He is best known for his books with Kate di Camillo, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, and Great Joy. Bagram lives in Gouldsboro, Pennsylvania.

Reviews

What do a 12-year-old student who moonlights as a tie salesman, a tall, outspoken girl, a gay middle schooler and a kid branded as a hooligan have in common? Best friends for years, they've all been the target of cruel name-calling and now that they're in seventh grade, they're not about to take it any more. In this hilarious and poignant novel, Howe (Bunnicula; The Watcher) focuses on the quietest of the bunch, overweight Bobby Goodspeed (the tie salesman), showing how he evolves from nerd to hero when he starts speaking his mind. Addie (the outspoken girl) decides that the four of them should run against more popular peers in the upcoming student council election. But her lofty ideals and rabble-rousing speeches make the wrong kind of waves, offending fellow classmates, teachers and the principal. It is not until softer-spoken Bobby says what's in his heart about nicknames and taunts that people begin to listen and take notice, granting their respect for the boy they used to call "Lardo" and "Fluff." The four "misfits" are slightly larger than life wiser than their years, worldlier than the smalltown setting would suggest, and remarkably well-adjusted but there remains much authenticity in the story's message about preadolescent stereotyping and the devastating effects of degrading labels. An upbeat, reassuring novel that encourages preteens and teens to celebrate their individuality. Ages 10-14. (Oct.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Gr 4-8-Howe's versatility, gift for wordplay, and distinct brand of humor have produced books that create an emotional connection with a wide range of audiences. Regrettably, this novel is a misfit. Bobby Goodspeed, an overweight seventh grader who lives with his underachieving father, narrates the book. He works part-time as a tie salesman in a department store. He and his unpopular friends, known as the "Gang of Five," decide to run for student council on an alternative platform called the "No-Name-Party." The candidates must face-off with the administration and opposing parties, and convince their fellow classmates of the damage caused by name-calling. In the process, members of the group learn about love, loss, and the true meaning of diversity. Unfortunately, The Misfits rambles rather than flows. Bobby's long-winded narration is written in a passive voice and sprinkled with only occasional dialogue. When the characters do speak, their formal dialogue (presented as minutes from the friends' Floating Forum meetings) goes on for pages on end, lacking any commentary from Bobby. It is not until the last third of the novel that readers begin to identify with the characters and bask in the success of Bobby's political partners.-Louie Lahana, New York City Public Schools Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

* "A fast, funny, tender story that will touch readers."--"School Library Journal", starred review""
"" "A timely, sensitive, laugh-out-loud must-read."--"Voices of America"

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