Stephanie Tolan won a Newbery Honor for SURVIVING THE APPLEWHITES, which was also an ALA Notable Book and a YALSA Best Book for Young Adults. She also won the Christopher Award for LISTEN! She lives in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Gr 2-3-Third-grader Max is adjusting to his parents' divorce, which includes a new school and a new house without his dad (although the man has never been emotionally present). The boy relies on King, a regal and loyal, but imaginary, dog, to deal with these challenges. In fact, Max has created an entire fantasy existence for himself that he calls "Adventure Time." In it, he performs heroic feats of daring with King by his side, thereby escaping the realities that trouble him. On one of these jaunts, the owner of a nifty little shop grants Max a wish that crosses over into the real world with consequences from which the dreamer learns and grows. Perhaps the most important change is Max's newfound willingness to accept the unpredictability and messiness of life, a change that is presented in a thoughtful twist in the evolution of his relationship with King. The shopkeeper, too, is an interesting manifestation of the troubled youngster's mental process of working out his conflicts. Tolan's vivid, clean writing is deceptively uncomplicated and the many issues touched upon are handled well. This book will resonate with kids while providing parents a great jumping-off point for conversations about how to overcome some of life's obstacles.-Alyson Low, Fayetteville Public Library, AR Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
This ambitious early chapter book might alternately be titled Be Careful What You Wish For. Third-grader Max has a lot on his plate since his parents have divorced and he moves to a new apartment with his mom and sister. Bullies rattle him at his new school, and occasional calls from his overbearing dad do little to reassure him. But Max has the perfect refuge: his elaborate imagination, where he spends "Adventure Time" with his trusty dreamed-up dog, King, and where he discovers a store that grants wishes ("Here by himself on his bed.... he could create whole worlds. He could go anywhere and do anything"). Things go awry when Max wishes for a "real, live dog," which shakes things up for Max's family in unexpected ways. The pacing stumbles a bit as Tolan (Surviving the Applewhites) plays out scenarios that emphasize the important role of a rich imaginary life, and the wishing device doesn't feel especially fresh. But Max is a complex yet relatable character, and Bates's gray-scale pencil-and-gouache artwork conveys plenty of emotion. Ages 7-10. (June) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
A lively, accessible chapter book.. -- Booklist
Quick pacing, large type, and frequent illustrations make this accessible for less experienced or more reluctant readers as well. . . . . Give this to the dreamers and the dog-lovers. -- Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
The book offers solace to children coping with trouble at home or school. -- OCFamily Magazine