Better Than Weird

( 2 )

Overview

That's when he saw it. A shadow behind a car parked on the other side of the street. It disappeared, only to reappear through the window of the car ahead. The sight of it made him whimper, the sound catching in his throat as he took off again, running.
This time he didn't stop until he reached the walkway to his house. Home, he thought. Home safe. But with his next step his foot landed on an icy patch. His arms rose instinctively, whirling, struggling for balance. It did no ...

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Better Than Weird

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Overview

That's when he saw it. A shadow behind a car parked on the other side of the street. It disappeared, only to reappear through the window of the car ahead. The sight of it made him whimper, the sound catching in his throat as he took off again, running.
This time he didn't stop until he reached the walkway to his house. Home, he thought. Home safe. But with his next step his foot landed on an icy patch. His arms rose instinctively, whirling, struggling for balance. It did no good. The ground below him vanished, and he fell. Pain, red as a fireball, exploded behind his eyes. He yelped.
Behind him, the voice said, "Gotcha now."

Aaron isn't like other kids. He sounds like a hyena when he laughs, and he can't sit still, but he has managed to make a couple of friends-and at least one enemy. Now he is anxiously awaiting the arrival of his father, whom he hasn't seen in eight years. But will his dad leave again because he thinks Aaron is too weird? Will the school bully beat him up? And will his dad ever be proud of him?

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Editorial Reviews

BookLinx
"A good book, with some mystery and action...Interesting and easy to follow."
Canadian Teacher
"The twists and turns in this short novel paint a compelling picture of the difficulties of growing up, and provide a unique perspective."
Canadian Children's Book News
"Kerz manages to create an endearing protagonist whom we want to succeed. By writing from Aaron's point of view, Kerz helps readers understand the daily struggles faced by a child who has always been teased, bullied and chosen last...We feel deeply for him. This is a story that all children who have struggled to fit in will appreciate and a tale that will perhaps garner empathy and understanding in those who know children like Aaron."
CanLit for Little Canadians blog
"Kerz compassionately shares Aaron's struggles and joys while illustrating the different perceptions others have of him and how these perceptions impact his own views and responses."
ParentCentral.ca - Deirdre Baker
"With warmth and understanding, Kerz presents Aaron's brave, hopeful efforts to understand others, inviting us to sympathize with his uncertainties about 'reading' people and about learning how to manage his own enthusiasm appropriately."
ParentCentral.ca
With warmth and understanding, Kerz presents Aaron's brave, hopeful efforts to understand others, inviting us to sympathize with his uncertainties about 'reading' people and about learning how to manage his own enthusiasm appropriately.
— Deirdre Baker
Booklist
"In a long line of recent books about kids with autism, Kerz's effort nevertheless shines, primarily because in Aaron she has created a kid who captures readers' complete interest as he struggles with his quirks and tries to be, as the title puts it, better than weird...Life's complications are delicately handled by Kerz, who weaves a multilayered tale...A heartwarming read for fans of realistic fiction."
CM Magazine
"A stand-alone sequel to Anna Kerz's excellent Mealworm Diaries. Aaron is a credible, well-rounded character, as are Gran, Tufan, Dad, and all of the other characters. Better Than Weird is simply told, yet rich with wonderful metaphors and believable surprises. Kerz's style makes this a story that will appeal to readers of all levels. Highly Recommended."
Quill & Quire
[Starred review] "Aaron doesn't know his father at all. He is both excited and terrified by the impending reunion—and so are we...Kerz is brilliant at describing these challenges from Aaron's perspective, and she does so without a trace of sentimentality...It's a messy and far from perfect outcome for Aaron, but after spending some time with his own messy imperfections, we wouldn't have it any other way."
Resource Links
"The story moves quickly and for those who enjoyed the humour in The Mealworm Diaries, they will certainly enjoy this title...Would be a good addition to a young readers' fiction collection in both school and public libraries. Aaron Waite is a unique, well-formed character who, like Joey Pigza in Jack Gantos' Joey Series, captures our sympathy and we read on because we want him to succeed."
Children's Literature - Jeanna Sciarrotta
Aaron knows that there is something about him that sets him apart from other kids. He laughs too loudly, cannot keep still, and finds it hard to read other's emotions. He wonders if this is why his father left. When his Gran informs him that his father is coming back for the first time in eight years, Aaron needs to find a way not to be weird, in the hopes that this time his father will stay. This proves harder that it sounds. Aaron's excitement just might cause him to lose one of his few friends, while the school bully continually threatens and intimidates him when no one is looking. In Anna Kerz's stand alone sequel to The Mealworm Diaries, she looks to Jeremy's annoying friend and science partner for her new protagonist. Readers who enjoyed Jeremy's story and got to know Aaron through his eyes will enjoy this firsthand account of what makes Aaron behave the way he does. Readers, who have not read the earlier novel, will find that Better Than Weird stands on its own two feet and the character of Aaron needs no introduction to get under your skin and tear at your heartstrings at the same time. Reviewer: Jeanna Sciarrotta
VOYA - Devin Burritt
Sixth-grade Aaron laughs inappropriately, has a difficult time reading emotions from people's faces, and becomes distracted quickly. Despite these problems, things are going well for him this year. He has made a new friend, and his father, who left when he was a small child, is coming back to see him. While Aaron is waiting eagerly to meet his estranged parent, he becomes the victim of a bully and has to deal with a music teacher who has no patience for a child with special needs. In the end he is able to stand up to the bully, foster a strong foundation for a relationship with his father, and prove to the unsympathetic teacher that he is capable of adding a significant contribution to the school's concert. Kerz's story is told from the point of view of Aaron, a boy who does not fit in with his class and has a difficult time reading social cues. The plot moves at a good pace, interweaving the stories of Aaron waiting to meet his father that abandoned him, learning how to make and keep a friend, and resolving conflict with a bully. The majority of young adults will need some coaching and explanation of the context before they are able to connect with the protagonist and the book as a whole. This is a good choice for someone who has some of the same issues as the protagonist or needs help understanding someone who does. Reviewer: Devin Burritt
School Library Journal
Gr 4–7—In this stand-alone sequel to The Mealworm Diaries (Orca, 2009), Kerz focuses on Aaron, one of the supporting characters from that book. Dubbed "Cantwait" by his sixth-grade classmates for his impulsive and immature behavior, Aaron struggles to make sense of his current social interactions with his peers. After an incident with the morning announcements draws the attention of the class bully, he attempts to focus on his father's imminent return after an eight-year absence. He creates lengthy lists of activities and hobbies that his dad will teach him, even after his custodial grandmother cautions him to manage his expectations. In the end, his father's arrival, coupled with his continued difficulties at school, leaves Aaron with more questions than answers. Kerz succeeds beautifully at crafting a convincing narrative centered on the life of a 12-year-old boy who cannot control his behavior. Not unlike the character of Jason in Nora Raleigh Baskin's Anything but Typical (S & S, 2009), Aaron's voice is convincing as a child desperate to understand his surroundings. Supporting characters, from Aaron's father to his classmates, are also realistically portrayed.—Colleen S. Banick, Tomlinson Middle School, Fairfield, CT
Kirkus Reviews - Kikus Reviews

Nicknamed "Cantwait" by his classmates for his impulsive behavior, awkward sixth-grader Aaron impatiently waits for several things. His father, gone for eight years, is returning with a surprise. Class bully Tufan threatens retribution. The grandmother who has raised him goes for cancer surgery. This moving story looks at both family and school life from the point of view of a boy trying hard to fit into a world he doesn't quite understand. His loving Gran keeps after him, gently but steadily; the school counselor, Karen, works with him on "reading faces"; and a Big Brother has given him helpful tips.Aaron's friendship with classmate Jeremy, described from Jeremy's point of view in The Mealworm Diaries (2009), is sorely tested. Veteran storyteller Kerz moves the third-person narration along quickly, making it jump from scene to scene like Aaron's attention. Realistically, not every teacher is patient with this challenging boy. His father doesn't live up to all his expectations, nor he, his father's.But the surprise turns out to be a positive one; his new, pregnant stepmother welcomes him sympathetically. The details of school life are believable and familiar, and the ending leaves Aaron and readers waiting for a hopeful outcome—the day when he and Gran can move to join his father and new family in Dawson. This companion book stands alone but will surely send readers back to read the first. (Fiction. 9-12)

Kirkus Reviews

Nicknamed "Cantwait" by his classmates for his impulsive behavior, awkward sixth-grader Aaron impatiently waits for several things. His father, gone for eight years, is returning with a surprise. Class bully Tufan threatens retribution. The grandmother who has raised him goes for cancer surgery. This moving story looks at both family and school life from the point of view of a boy trying hard to fit into a world he doesn't quite understand. His loving Gran keeps after him, gently but steadily; the school counselor, Karen, works with him on "reading faces"; and a Big Brother has given him helpful tips.Aaron's friendship with classmate Jeremy, described from Jeremy's point of view in The Mealworm Diaries (2009), is sorely tested. Veteran storyteller Kerz moves the third-person narration along quickly, making it jump from scene to scene like Aaron's attention. Realistically, not every teacher is patient with this challenging boy. His father doesn't live up to all his expectations, nor he, his father's.But the surprise turns out to be a positive one; his new, pregnant stepmother welcomes him sympathetically. The details of school life are believable and familiar, and the ending leaves Aaron and readers waiting for a hopeful outcome—the day when he and Gran can move to join his father and new family in Dawson. This companion book stands alone but will surely send readers back to read the first. (Fiction. 9-12)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781554693627
  • Publisher: Orca Book Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/1/2011
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 281,753
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 560L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Anna Kerz's first book, The Mealworm Diaries, was shortlisted for many awards, including a Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Award. Anna is also the author of The Gnome's Eye, a story loosely based on her experiences as an immigrant child, and Better Than Weird, the companion novel to The Mealworm Diaries. When she's not writing, Anna can be found working in her garden, walking her dog or collecting new folk and fairy tales, myths and legends to try out on her grandchildren. In her spare time, she tells stories to audiences of all ages and teaches students how to tell stories of their own. She lives in Scarborough, Ontario, with her husband, Frank, and their dog, Bailey.
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Read an Excerpt

That's when he saw it. A shadow behind a car parked on the other side of the street. It disappeared, only to reappear through the window of the car ahead. The sight of it made him whimper, the sound catching in his throat as he took off again, running.

This time he didn't stop until he reached the walkway to his house. Home, he thought. Home safe. But with his next step his foot landed on an icy patch. His arms rose instinctively, whirling, struggling for balance. It did no good. The ground below him vanished, and he fell. Pain, red as a fireball, exploded behind his eyes. He yelped.

Behind him, the voice said, "Gotcha now."

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2012

    Better Than Wierd

    Better than wierd is a great book it tells about this boy that is sooooo excited to get to see his dad that left him at a very young age. His mother as died befor the dad left. The dad felt he didnt like him so then he LEFT! Read this book and you wont be disaponted.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2013

    Read this review

    Confusin!!!!no real story line a waste of my time and money

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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