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Come Fall Hardcover – July 27, 2010
From School Library Journal
Gr 4-7–Salman, an orphan in his umpteenth foster home, has an uncertain life with an abusive man who does not want him around. Lu, a shy girl who is lonely since her best friend moved, feels lost at times with all the changes. Blos, one who sees things differently, puts people into two categories: those who avoid him and those who make fun of him. These young people discover the true meaning of friendship when they are thrown together at Riverfalls Junior High, where an unlikely bond occurs under the worst of circumstances. This tale is told from a variety of perspectives, including Puck, from the faerie realm. The story flows well, though readers may wonder why the faeries are muddling in the characters' lives, and it is not explained until the acknowledgments at the end. The characters are well developed, authentic, and have distinct voices. The friendships they build are believable, as are the problems they face. Even Lu, who has a great family, has social issues that are easy to relate to. The book turns out to be a pleasant account of making new friends and what it takes to be one, regardless of what others think. Students who enjoy realistic fiction with a touch of fantasy will enjoy this story with a feel-good ending.Mariela Siegert, Westfield Middle School, Bloomingdale, IL
© Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
In Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a fairy queen and king quarrel over an Indian changeling. Although the boy speaks no lines and never appears in the stage directions, Bauer wondered what happened to him. The result is this touching blend of realism and fantasy when South Asian Salman Page, who’s been in and out of foster homes and has an uncanny ability to communicate with crows, enters seventh grade at his eleventh school. Always on the move, Salman has trouble making new friends, as do his designated buddy Lu Zimmer and their fellow classmate with Asperger’s-like qualities, Blos Pease. Added to the mix is fairy servant Puck, who gathers information on the foundling from his crow spy. Their alternating viewpoints reveal how the tweens cope with such dilemmas as unfit foster parents and the school bully, form a mutual respect amid their differences, and gain self-confidence. Weaving in magic, dreams, doubles, contrasts, and other elements from the original play, Bauer spins an enticing variant. Grades 4-7. --Angela Leeper
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Top customer reviews
The characters sucked me right into this story from the very first page. Salman Page is an orphan, or as we later come to find out, a changeling. Lu is missing her best friend who just moved away, and Bos is a literal minded young man who exists somewhere on the autism spectrum. These characters are all very well drawn, and its their friendship that makes this story work. This is a story about fitting in when your'e different, what makes a true friend, and getting to know yourself and what is important to you. On this level, the author works magic. I loved all of these kids and was so eager for them to succeed. Any young reader will see a bit of themselves in these three and will empathize with their problems and celebrate their triumphs.
What I just didn't get was the other story going on here at the same time. Every couple of chapters or so, we hear from Puck. Yes, that Puck from Midsummer Nights Dream. Salman has drawn the interest of the faery queen, and as it turns out, she has been keeping an eye on him all these years, and now he is in the middle of an argument between the King and the Queen, who are now spending a lot of time debating whether to interfere in the lives of our three heroes. Puck ends up sticking his hoof in, but only peripherally. The real world and the world of faery never really intersect. The kids never know they were of any interest to anyone in the faery world.
Although I understand the author's interest in the Shakespeare play, and that the character of Salman actually sprang from a character in that play, I didn't understand the role the fairies played in the story of Bos, Lu and Salman. This would have been a fantastic story of friendship and growing up without the inclusion of the magical elements. The crow that Salman befriends seems to be the only bridge between these two tales and that connection is tenuous at best.
I continue to be a fan of this author and while I didn't get the big picture with this effort, I did love her characters and her writing. Any kiddo ages 9 to 12 will pick this up and find a lot to enjoy. This one is kind of a puzzling recommend. Maybe?