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Rachel Spinelli Punched Me in the Face Hardcover – August 30, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

After his eccentric mother leaves unexpectedly to work on a cruise ship, 14-year-old Zachary Beatrice and his police-officer dad leave their rural Colorado “postage stamp–sized” trailer lot to start over in Falls, Connecticut. They’re immediately welcomed by the Polish ice cream shop owners, the pregnant band teacher, the jack-of-all-trades librarian, and other charming, eccentric residents. But it’s neighbors Rachel Spinelli, who spends most afternoons in detention, and her big brother, Teddy, a trumpet virtuoso with an unspecified, Asperger’s-like disorder, who interest Zachary the most. Like him, they’ve lost a mother (whose ashes they keep in an old coffee pot at their father’s diner). As Rachel and Teddy help Zachary find friendship, forgiveness—and even a little romance—for the first time, the once-loner teen shows Rachel how to deal with her anger and helps draw out Teddy’s talents. Likable characters and gentle humor keep the story’s serious issues on the lighter side, and readers will certainly smile at the satisfying conclusion. Grades 5-8. --Angela Leeper

Review

What distinguishes this story is Acampora's light touch with a weighty subject - this is a very funny book... (ReadKiddoRead.com)

Fans of small-town color and happy endings will take heart in this ultimately hopeful tale. (BCCB)

Quirky characters, small-town hominess, and frequent touches of humor create a Joan Bauer feel with cross-gender appeal. (SLJ)

An outstanding, humane coming-of-age tale of loss, yearning and forgiveness. (Kirkus Reviews)

Acampora's light touch with weighty issues makes for a highly appealing read--readers will want to spend more time with these well-crafted and complex characters. (Publishers Weekly)
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 550L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Roaring Brook Press (August 30, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596435488
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596435483
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.9 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,962,076 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Paul Acampora writes novels and short stories for teens, middle grade and elementary school readers. Born and raised in Bristol, Connecticut, Paul now lives and works in Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley. A proud graduate of the University of Notre Dame (1985), Paul is a former kindergarten teacher, a current college administrator and a member of the Eastern PA Chapter of the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI).

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J.Prather TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 11, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Rachel Spinelli Punched Me In The Face is an incredibly heartwarming read, peopled with characters taken directly from the streets of small town America. Zac is fourteen years old, and his mother has left him and his father to run away to work on a cruise ship. He's nursing a hurt the size of Texas, but still manages to hold on to his sense of self thanks in no small part to the strength and love of a father who seems to know just when to hug him close and when to let him be by himself. When the two decide to pick up and move to small Falls, Connecticut, it's with the hopes of gaining a fresh start and taking the first steps to their goal of being happy.

When Rachel Spinelli and her older brother Teddy push their way into Zac's life, he's forced to open himself up to the possibility of having real friends and making a home for himself in this new town. It's not going to be easy though; Rachel has enough rage packed away inside her to scare anyone away. The story of Rachel and Zac's blooming relationship over one summer is touching and realistic. They are neither one perfect, but they manage to strike the perfect balance with each other - first becoming true friends (something neither one has had before) before finally sharing a chaste kiss to signal the start of something more.

This is a fabulous coming of age story certain to appeal to any young reader age ten and up. Zac is a wonderful character, although at times he seems older than his years. Rachel is his perfect foil, a stick of dynamite just ready to go off at any moment, until she encounters Zac's surprising honesty and calm acceptance. They help each other through some pretty heavy issues with heavy doses of humor and practical wisdom.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Berenson on August 10, 2013
Format: Hardcover
First off, I'm not a verified purchaser of this book. I checked it out from my local library.

That said, I was impressed with the little world Paul Acampora creates in this book. The main characters are compelling and I like how the author lets them drop little pearls of insight into their conversations. ("From the mouth of babes...") It's like when you watch a sitcom and you know people can't be that funny or clever in real life, but you enjoy them on the screen nevertheless.

There are valuable lessons about friendship and responsibility doled out here and I can see how parents would love this book. It has family values written all over it, yet there is some "racy" material in the relationship between Zac and Rachel (an adroitly presented firecracker of a girl). Also the tricky and potentially devastating aftermath of a broken marriage is handled with sensitivity and balance. This is in many ways a wise book and I would recommend it to all young readers.

My one problem with the story is its idealization of its characters and its setting. Zac's father is a police officer who's just had his wife dump him (and her child) to chase her dreams of working on a cruise ship. Yet not one cross word does he utter the entire book. (Or if he does, I can't remember it.) There's a high school the kids go to so one knows that there are a great number of young people in the area, even including a bully or two, but most all of them disappear after an initial introduction. The town seems populated by idiosyncratic, quaint lovable types meant to charm the reader.

I admire Paul Acampora's facility with language. He can elicit strong emotions from the reader from a seemingly simple scene. Like the music that weaves through the story, he knows that a few well placed notes can have a profound impact.
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A Kid's Review on October 15, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Review by This Kid Reviews Books! Find me on the web!

16 year-old Zach has deal with not only moving across the country from Colorado to a small town in Connecticut, but also his mother leaving him and his father. They move in next door to a family with a grouchy teen-age girl named Rachel Spinelli. Rachel gets into a lot of fights because she is protective of her brother, Teddy. Teddy is also 16 and he has a mental disability. Rachel asks Zach and his Dad to watch out for Teddy to make sure he is OK. Teddy plays the trumpet really well and he helps Zach learn to play better. Over time Zach becomes friends with Teddy, gets a crush on Rachel and starts to really feel at home in Falls Connecticut.

OH, Rachel Spinelli really does punch him in the face, but I won't tell you why! OK I'll give you a hint, it involves a squirrel.

This isn't the usually action / adventure story I usually really get into. It's a story about a high school kids life, but it is a VERY good story! I like how it gets funny when there are serious topics (like Zach's mother leaving or Teddy's disability). I usually don't like romance stuff in stories but this really wasn't over the top. I found that I really cared about Zach and wanted him to have a nice life. Some of the topics in the book might not be good for younger advanced readers because they are kind of sad (I'd say 9+ ages). I am definitely keeping this book in my library and will read it again! In summary I say - HEY KIDS put down the Harry Potter books and try a different kind of story!
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