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Children's LiteratureJosh clearly wants to be accepted by the popular seventh graders as he starts sixth grade at his new school, but also knows the other new students, Skye and Mark, have more integrity and enduring friendship qualities. The ring leader, Corey, butters up Josh and convinces him he is the perfect choice to play on their hockey team, but he really only wants Josh to test the ice of the near frozen pond before they risk their own lives. Corey teases Skye unmercifully and bullies his "friends" into doing what he wants. Mark, who is borderline autistic, is often in his own world, but comes through in emergency situations. His voice is usually an octave above normal and he endlessly takes photos with his digital camera. Hockey skates show up mysteriously on Josh's doorstep just a few days before the pond freezes over. Even though the ice may not be solid, Corey is ready for practice and has the team meet at the pond. When Skye and Mark convince Josh not to go out on the ice, Corey turns mean and shoves Alex out, throwing stones to get him to move to the middle of the lake. When the ice breaks, Corey and his cohorts flee, but Josh, Skye, and Mark (after Mark has documented the whole situation with his camera) make their way out onto the ice and rescue Alex. Josh learns who his real friends are and Mark basks in his new superhero role. 2003, Albert Whitman & Company, Ages 11 to 14.
—Janet L. Rose