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Almost Home Hardcover – September 13, 2012
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"Sugar's voice is convincing, both as storyteller and young writer; her natural good humor shines through what could be a sad story indeed. Quirky supporting characters—both human and dog—add to its appeal. Sugar...will win readers hearts." —Kirkus, starred review
"sure to inspire" —Library Media Connection, starred review
"Bauer's trademark humor lightens the serious subject matter, while Sugar's frank honesty will give young readers a glimpse at a situation affecting a growing number of children." —Booklist
“Sugar's anger, fear, humility, and resolve are portrayed with insight and compassion.” —Publishers Weekly
“a memorable novel” —School Library Journal
“Almost Home… skillfully tells the tale of precocious and street-smart Sugar Mae Cole.” —New York Times Book Review
“While Bauer fans will definitely want to get their paws on this one, there's plenty of realism here to draw a wider crowd.” —BCCB
About the Author
More About the Author
Joan has also been a recipient of the Judy Lopez Memorial Award; the ASTAL Award for Outstanding Contributions to Literature for Young People; the Michigan Thumbs-up! Award for Children's Literature; the Delacorte Prize for a First Young Adult Novel; the Pacific Northwest Library Association Award; the New Jersey Reading Association M. Jerry Weiss Award; the New England Booksellers Award; and the Boston Public Library's "Literary Light" Award. Her novels have been nominated extensively for state book awards, in addition to appearing onÂ ALA Notable Books, ALA Best Books, ALA Quick Picks, American Bookseller Pick of the List, School Library Journal Best Books, Smithsonian Notable Children's Books, VOYA's Perfect 10s. Her novel Rules of the Road was chosen as one of the top young adult books of the quarter century by the American Library Association. Her thirteenth novel, Soar, will be published in January 2016.
Joan is a member of the Writers Guild of America East, the Authors Guild, PEN, and the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. She lives in Brooklyn, New York with her husband Evan and their intrepid wheaten terrier Max. She enjoys cooking, playing the piano, hiking, songwriting, and ice skating (as long as she has enough time for a slow stop).
Top Customer Reviews
When I was teaching middle school English, I would have assigned this book to my class. I know I would have. There is very little character description, so readers will make their own minds up about what the characters look like. I had many students who lived through situations similar to what the girl in this story, Sugar, walks through.
But, as a homeschooling mom, I'm not going to assign this book to my children. There are a couple of reasons. Because I homeschool, I can shelter my kids and let them be kids. I know they have to tackle and understand the hard stuff of the world, but the big question I face is when and how. Books tackle difficult subjects differently. Some address the tough stuff of life. Some can plant ideas in kids heads (depending on who the kids is). Some are persuasive about life issues. Some are objective and simply tell a story--leaving the moral evaluation up to the reader. I did read this entire book. After the first half, I was willing to let my daughter read it. I knew I would need to process through it because there is a slew of difficult emotional issues in it--abandonment by a parent, neglect, poverty, homelessness, peer pressure, teasing, and death of a loved one. But, then I read two pages that it took it off the reading list for my kids. It was the discussion of depression and her mom's time in the hospital after she breaks down. She asks the question to herself of whether it could happen to her.Read more ›
Sugar has a lovely if slightly unusual support system. Even after she leaves town, her English teacher Mr. Bennett is there for her. "E-mail me," he says, and eventually she does. Then Sugar finds a frightened puppy and manages to keep it even when she gets dropped into the foster care system. A group home is rough, but she ends up with a couple who are kind to her. This doesn't go over well with her mother, who is still in a shelter, still struggling. Sugar handles her divided loyalties as best she can. She also helps her fearful puppy, too, reassuring herself at the same time. Slowly, Sugar's life takes on a new shape.
Bauer may be prone to overly tidy endings, but I'm good with that. I believe a children's book should end on a note of hope--as long as it's not sicky-sweet. Sugar's life has improved by the last page, but it's still not going to be an easy road. Sugar is a thoroughly likable character, and I'm rooting for her all the way into that fictional future of hers. Bauer's portrait of homelessness may end more happily than most such scenarios in the lives of actual children, but it will certainly clue young readers in to how hard it is to be poor and adrift. That kind of empathy will serve them well in this life where so many people are in difficult situations.
Sugar and her puppy Shush are trying to hold the family together as Sugar's mom Reba falls apart. Dad's not in the picture, and Reba has always lived in a bit of dreamland. Sugar's been the one to face facts, using poetry and creative thank you notes to express herself. When they lose their house, Sugar changes schools and loses her connection to a supportive teacher (although they can still email). Luckily she finds other adults who can help her. I found Sugar a little pushy and demanding, but she's got a lot going on in her life for someone in 6th grade, so I cut her some slack. The ending, as Sugar starts 7th grade in a new school is hopeful without being overly sweet. Lots of humor in this book, though sometimes it struck me as odd, like when an old dog passes away, or when her no-good father tries to get back with mother. I think BEST FOOT FORWARD and RULES OF THE ROAD (both also by Bauer, and easy to suggest to 7th graders) are better books. This one hits a slightly younger audience (5th graders) and the puppy on the cover says "Pick Me Up" to every reader who walks by. MIddle school readers wanting more books on children parenting their parents might try WAITING FOR NORMAL by Lesli Connor(5th/6th grade) and DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS by C.J. Omololu (7th/8th grade)
About me: I'm a middle school/high school librarian
How I got this book: purchased for the library
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book is a very cute, funny, and loving book I hope you read it one day and if you do you will like it a lot.Published 3 months ago by Heather
This has been a favorite for years. Almost home brings out the grit of Sugar and her amazing mother Rita as they go through one of the toughest experiences life has hurled at them. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Louis P. Visser
I loved the voice of the narrator, so genuine. Charming, but not sappyPublished 5 months ago by Vicki Edelnant
Almost Home was a amazing book yes it was sad but still good. The genre for this book is realistic fiction so it could happen in real life. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Alina
Excellent story, my 11 year old enjoyed this book for her summer reading project.Published 5 months ago by Amy Manley
This book was an option for my summer reading. (I teach 6th grade.) I had several students tell me on the first day of school that they loved it, and it was their new favorite! Read morePublished 5 months ago by K D
This book was a very good one it took me almost the whole school year to read it.It was a very lenthly book but its worth it. Read morePublished 6 months ago by deb
Heartwarming tale, good for late elementary school kids and early adolescents.Published 7 months ago by Patrick Bateman