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Grade 5-7–Tom, a seventh grader, tells about the arrival of Jessica, a new student who was badly burned in a fire and is attending St. Catherine's while she gets treatments at a local hospital. The students in Tom's class are afraid of her because of her appearance but little by little he develops a friendship with her that changes his life. Through realistic settings and dialogue, and believable characters, readers will be able to relate to the social dynamics of these adolescents who are trying to handle a difficult situation. The students who shy away from Jessica are at a loss as to what to say. Tom begins to look beyond her exterior and realizes that his life will not be the same after she leaves, just three weeks later. The theme of acceptance is presented in a touching story of friendship that is easy to read yet hard to forget.–Denise Moore, O'Gorman Junior High School, Sioux Falls, SD
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Gr. 5-8. Describing his encounters with Jessica Feeney, seventh-grader Tom Bender reflects, "On the outside it doesn't look like very much happened. A burned girl was in my class for a while. Once I brought her some homework. Then she was gone." The remainder of Firegirl considers the way outside appearances fail to portray the real story. Tom is overweight and unnoticed. Jessica Feeney, however, is impossible to ignore; a tragic fire has left horrible burns all over her body. The students at St. Catherine's avoid her, and they spread wild gossip about her. Tom's friend Jeff refuses to hold her hand during prayers. Yet Tom finds that from certain angles, Jessica almost looks like a regular girl, and by supporting her, however tentatively, he sacrifices everything he thought he wanted. In this poignant story, readers will recognize the insecurities of junior high and discover that even by doing small acts of kindness people stand to gain more than they lose. Nancy Kim
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.