From School Library Journal
Gr 4-6-Abby Walker just wants to be like everyone else, until the day that she decides it's OK to be herself. The sixth grader is on the heavy side and has her own ideas. But she has desperately wanted to be friends with the popular girls, who quickly reject and bully her when she stands up for herself. Once she leaves them behind, Abby realizes that there is another world to discover. She doesn't gain superhuman strength or experience a huge boost in confidence; she simply becomes free from the shackles of trying to please everyone at school. Abby is befriended by two nerdy boys and becomes friends with a boy whose father is recovering from PTSD after returning from Iraq. This latter relationship also helps her to put things into perspective and to overcome the challenges she faces. Juxtaposed with her story is a surreal tale about an anthropomorphic fox that wants to help Abby. Every few chapters are devoted to the animal even as the two story lines intertwine. This novel about a character finding her place even if it isn't what she imagined for herself is a great addition to collections on character building.-Kerry Roeder, The Brearley School, New York Cityα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
*Starred Review* Abigail Walker is a large girl living in a medium-sized world. She tries to fit in at school with a group of girls whose purpose is defined by how bad they make her feel. On top of that, her father nags her about her weight, and her mother fails to recognize how her insistence on constant harmony is inherently unfair. What Abby wants is “rough edges” and permission “to feel whatever it was she was feeling.” When she encounters a fox in an overgrown lot across the street from her house, it has a talismanic effect, and Abby starts to see how social expectations do not define her own happiness. Dowell masterfully handles the hot-button topic of bullying and will have readers contemplating the pettiness and self-loathing that supports it. Beating at the triumphant heart of the book is Abigail’s realization that life is fullest when experienced genuinely. This is a story of Abigail’s crossings: crossing a computer lab to make a friend; crossing a street to find peaceful isolation; crossing a creek to escape a tormentor; and crossing all the lines drawn to prevent her from feeling alive inside. A timely and heartening book for today’s middle schoolers. Grades 4-7. --Kara Dean