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Shifty Hardcover – September 1, 2008

4.9 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 6–9—Soli, nicknamed "Shifty" for his ability to talk his way out of problems, has had a hard life filled with transition homes and foster families. He's happy to have landed at Martha's house with seven-year-old Sissy and baby Chance. However, while the woman genuinely cares about her foster children, she neglects simple tasks like buying food and relies on Soli to run errands and look after Sissy. Though he's only 15, Soli has shown Martha a fake learner's permit, so she allows him to drive her van; he occasionally uses it without her knowledge, leading to run-ins with police and a near towing. When Martha is unexpectedly hospitalized overnight, Soli is left in charge. Sissy's friend Darlene insists on coming over, which leads to a web of lies and trouble from Darlene's parents. Soli must also deal with the new social worker, who is looking to cite Martha on any infraction. Thinking on his feet, he manages to save her from getting into trouble. Though they must say goodbye to Chance, who is going to a permanent home, Martha is determined to get her act together and adopt Soli and Sissy. The novel's San Francisco setting is clearly delineated, but the ending is too clean, with hardly any consequences for Soli's or Martha's actions, a seemingly unrealistic outcome. Still, the characters have warmth, and readers will feel empathy for this makeshift family.—Nichole King, Morgan Hill Library, CA
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Review

Review, Shelf Awareness:
“Hazen has a gift for turning humor into poignant situations ...”
 
Review, Kirkus Reviews:
"Smart writing and an engaging narrative keep the story fresh, while an interesting plot will keep readers turning the pages."
 
Review, VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates) "Top Shelf Fiction" for Middle School Readers:
"Surprising, inspiring and outstanding titles for youngsters and the grownups that read to them."
 
Review, School Library Journal:
"...the characters have warmth, and readers will feel empathy for this makeshift family."
 
Review, Read Plus (Australia):
"...An engrossing and heart warming story; this book draws the reader in from the first page. Shifty tells his story in his own words, which are often humorous and heart-rending and he makes the characters in this tale come alive..." 

Review, Teens Read Too:
"... Written with heart and compassion, Shifty is a fun and fast-paced read. Readers will be rooting for Soli from page one, indignant at the judgmental people he is forced to put up with and sympathetic to the hardships that he is forced to endure. Lynn E. Hazen reveals a world that most readers could never have imagined, and Soli is an optimistic and courageous character that readers will identify with..."Amber Gibson. Rating: 5 Stars

Review, Book Trends, May 14, 2010:
This book has made me want to read it over and over again.” —Adam, 6th grader. Rating: 5 Stars
 
"In deceptively straightforward prose, author Lynn Hazen brings Shifty's San Francisco world to life on the page. Original, telling details, a compassionate eye, and Hazen's intuitive understanding of how love and trust can save us make Shifty a book to treasure."
Alison McGhee, Author of several novels and picture books, including #1 New York Times bestseller Someday
 

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 680L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Tricycle Press (September 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1582462577
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582462578
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,972,086 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
SHIFTY is the best children's book about a foster kid since THE GREAT GILLY HOPKINS (one of my faves - by Katherine Paterson, Newbery Honor winner, 1979). Yanked in and out of foster homes for most of his fifteen years, Shifty has finally landed somewhere he likes with a 'sister' and 'mother' he obviously loves, but circumstances combine with his well-intended but ill-advised behavior to threaten his makeshift happy home. As did Paterson before her, Hazen manages to depict a somewhat grim, grown-up theme -- the instability and uncertainty of the life of a ward of state -- with hope and humor. I loved traveling with Shifty as he navigated the streets of San Francisco and the bumpy roads of foster life. What an entertaining trip -- so glad author Hazen let me come along for the ride!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I fell head over heels in love with this book. Hazen's descriptions of Soli's experience as a fosterkid, of San Francisco's neighborhoods, of the relationships Soli has with his foster sister and foster mother are heart-shattering and as real as they come.
I came to care for Soli deeply. I rooted for him, and wanted him to get away with all the trouble he creates. Which he does, sometimes. This is a REAL winner.
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Format: Hardcover
RATING: 4.5 out of 5

Shifty is the kind of kid that I have always admired, gutsy out of necessity, but a kind soft heart just looking for a place to call home. And given a chance and a little extra room, he will most of the time make the right decision even if it seems unusual to the rest of us.

Ms. Hazen has given a voice to foster kids and the majority of the people who care for them, not only those in San Francisco but all over the country.

Shifty is a kid that might work on the nerves of teachers at school even though you can't call him bad. He is just resourceful and probably more "street wise" than the majority of his teachers, but only because he has had to be for so long.

As this story starts, Shifty is finally in a foster home that is as close to normal as he can remember, and includes Mother Martha, little sister Sissy, and baby Thaddeus (aka Chance) two other hard to place foster kids. Sissy barely speaks at first due to prolonged physical abuse, and Baby Chance is a newborn crack addicted baby that required almost all of Martha's time. The antics of Shifty with "tagalong" Sissy are "haha" funny and engaging because of his ingenuity and guts, and will have you laughing right up to the end. And that is an important aspect in this book, which would otherwise depress you because of the plight of not only these kids and their circumstances, but also because of the pressures that are regularly placed on the foster parent trying to just do the "right thing" all the time.

I would recommend this book not only to adults who need to be enlightened but also to middle schoolers and up who need to see how the real world operates for some kids. Understanding usually brings about compassion. Thank you, Ms. Hazen for giving us a look into the foster care system with an eye towards hope.
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Format: Hardcover
Abandoned on a Greyhound bus just days after he was born, Soli has a lot working against him. Luckily, this plucky 15-year-old seems to have found a real home at long last.

His foster mom, Martha, is a shining example of a woman whose heart is in the right place. Though she does not have much money, she dedicates her life to taking care of Soli, a sweet little girl named Sissy, and Thaddeus, a baby boy born addicted to cocaine. Martha has always seen the good in these kids, and she doesn't believe that people should be defined by labels like "foster kid" and "crack baby."

The social workers and people who run the foster care system never give Soli the benefit of a doubt, filling his files with untrue information about how dangerous and suspicious he is. However, Soli doesn't conform to their low expectations. He loves his foster family and never shirks his responsibilities as a big brother and son.

Perhaps driving Martha's van without a license isn't legal, but Soli is a good driver and his intentions are pure - he drives to buy groceries or pick up Sissy when Martha cannot. Still, driving without a license is risky business. Driving home bag ladies, escaping tow trucks, and having tomatoes thrown at Martha's white van are par for the course. Anything to avoid being stopped by authorities, where he might get in serious trouble for driving sans license.

Soli's biggest dilemma right now is Sheila, the new social worker who is determined to shut Martha down. Sheila is just looking for any little slip-up to file a complaint against Martha, so Soli and Sissy are on their best behavior. Martha is the mother they never had and they will do anything to remain living with her.
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Format: Hardcover
Soli, called Shifty by the foster care system that has shuffled him around all of his life, doesn't always make the right choices, but sometimes the line is thin between the wrong choice for the right reason and sticking to the rules. Full of twists, turns, and complications, this YA novel features one of the most appealing 'reluctant heroes' I've met in a long time. With the help of his new make-shift family; Martha, his new foster mom with a huge heart and half a missing leg, Sissy, his needy but fierce little foster sister, and Chance, the baby who has barely a chance, Soli begins to recognize the voice of his own good conscience and what it means to care.
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