Flipping Forward Twisting Backward

Peachtree/Freestone. Jul. 2022. 144p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781682633663.
Gr 3-7–Fifth grader Claire is a successful competitive gymnast, but she is unable to find the same success in school. She compensates for her inability to read by getting her best friend Emma Lea to do her homework and by listening to audiobooks to complete book reports. Her embarrassment in class leads to conflict with her teacher, and classmates begin to bully Claire. The vice principal, Mr. McCay, suspects Claire has a learning disability, but Claire’s mother refuses to let the school test her. Fortunately, Claire receives support from her older sister, her best friend, and her gymnastics teammates. The book, based on the author’s personal experience growing up with dyslexia, offers an authentic portrayal of children with learning disabilities. Readers will empathize with Claire as she struggles with feeling “stupid” and will support her journey. The quick-moving plot comes with a satisfying ending, and the free-verse narrative provides plenty of helpful white space for reluctant readers. Claire appears white, and her friend Emma Lea appears Black in the black-and-white illustrations.
VERDICT Recommended for students seeking realistic fiction about characters with learning disabilities similar to Alyson Gerber’s Focused, and for those who enjoy reading books written in free verse.

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