Sunday, January 23, 2022

Review: Grape, Again! by Gabriel Arquilevich

As mentioned, I have two reviews up today. This is the second and the main one. I read the first book and reviewed it on here...oh, in 2019 (I think). And I thought Grape was amazing. So, there was no way I'd pass up on seeing what happens to Grape next...because you never know with this boy.

Ready for a fun spin? 

by Gabriel Arquilevich
Fitzroy Book
Middle Grade Contemporary
173 pages
ages 8 to 12

JULY 19th!!!

Good news! Principal Clarkson says Grape is ready for junior high. He doesn't have to go to Riverwash, the school for troubled kids! But there's also bad news. Grape's best friend, Lou, has moved to New York, leaving Grape alone to ride his Evel Knievel bike, sail with his family, and start his bar mitzvah training—all this while navigating a new school with new teachers, and, of course, the "spiders" in his brain. To make matters worse, Clair, Grape's crush, has eyes on Maxwell, the new kid with feathered hair. Sherman and Bully Jim provide some company, but it's his bond with Heidi—a wheelie-popping, cigarette-smoking foster kid—that teaches him what matters most in life. Full of hilarity and sadness, confusion and love, Grape, Again! is an unforgettable coming-of-age story.




These pages hold a masterful balance of tough themes, humor, friendship and heart, which will have the thought-gears turning while producing snorts and giggles along the way.

Grape's best friend is off on vacation for a few weeks, according to the mother, but that doesn't stop Grape from writing him letters. After all, Grape has somehow escaped being sent to a school for difficult boys, has been placed in Advanced English, has a class with his crush, and even has a new friend (of sorts), which might cause him to get into more trouble than he already does himself. Add tons more problems, and Grape is in for another, huge adventure.

Grape is a bit of a trouble-maker, but he is impossible not to love. He, actually, has a heart of gold but just keeps running into issues...and babbles non-stop thanks to other reasons. His mind is all over the place, but then, his life doesn't make things easier as his best friend moves away, his crush has eyes for another guy, and someone is egging him into causing even more issues than he usually gets himself into. He's simply wonderful to follow, and it's a treat to listen to all the directions his mind constantly wanders.

There is a ton of humor in these pages, and it's the more realistic kind, which holds such familiarity that it hits home. Readers will have no problem connecting with Grape and all of the obstacles he faces—self-created and not. Then, add the tougher themes, and this becomes a book full of richness and depth...but still, keeps that light-hearted, funny, heart-touching atmosphere. It's quick and furious and impossible not to enjoy from beginning to end. Because a ton happens....and I do mean a ton.

The length of this one, at around 160 pages, also makes it great for more reluctant readers. It's an easy read, holds lots of dialogue, and never lets the information or details drag down. Instead, something is always happening, and Grape's mind is all over the place. Add the great messages of family, friendship, peer-pressure, first love and such, and classrooms and homeschoolers will even enjoy this one.

And here he is...

I was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley, a child of Argentine immigrants, a child of the ‘70s. My earliest memory of writing goes back to middle school: a story featuring my classmates and post-earthquake cannibalism. My teacher asked me to read it out loud, and my classmates’ laughs are with me still. In college I wrote a few poems, and following the encouragement of a beloved teacher, pursued poetry with a passion. In time I was off to UMASS Amherst. A few years later, MFA in hand, I took a job teaching sixth grade in Ojai, California, where I fell in love three times: once with my wife, once with teaching, and then again with children’s literature.
I authored several middle-grade/early high school textbooks, including How to Write an Essay, A Guide to Using Shiloh in the Classroom, and World Religions (Teacher Created Materials). I also published Writing for 100 Days, which was named Cathy Duffy’s Top 101 Picks for homeschoolers. My poetry, published widely, has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.
My wife and I live in Meiners Oaks, CA. I teach writing and literature at Ventura College.

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