True (. . . Sort Of) Hardcover – Apr 26 2011
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About the Author
Katherine Hannigan studied mathematics, painting, and studio art and has worked as the education coordinator for a Head Start program and, most recently, as an assistant professor of art and design. She is the author of True (. . . Sort Of), Emmaline and the Bunny, and the national bestseller Ida B . . . and Her Plans to Maximize Fun, Avoid Disaster, and (Possibly) Save the World. She lives in Iowa with a bunch of cats and the occasional bunny or bird visitor. Her backyard hosts an additional array of creatures, including deer, raccoons, possums, and sometimes a skunk. But no alligators . . . yet!
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Delly has been called bad so many times that she's starting to believe it herself. Instead of walking away from fights, she's causing them and breaking her mother's heart. Feris doesn't talk at all, burying a pain so deep and dark that words have failed to penetrate. Brud stumbles over words when he tries to speak, making him the butt of jokes from other kids. Each of these characters has learned first hand how words can hurt. By reaching out to each other in unexpected ways, they also learn how words can heal.
This beautifully written story was recommended to me by my 8-year-old daughter. She insisted that I read it and I'm so glad that I listened to her. The achingly real portrayals of friendship and families bring a sense of hope to the lives of three children who had almost given up. Highly recommended.
Main character Delly Pattison is endearing and as a former teacher, really hit true. Delly isn't a bad kid, but she's been told she is so many times, she has given up on herself. With just a little encouragement and some help from her younger brother and another unlikely friend, Delly realizes that she does have good in herself and that she doesn't always have to be `bad'.
In the back of the book there is a Dellyictionary to define all the words that Delly has invented. I think my favorite is Dellyventure (an adventure of the best sort) but its an awfully close tie with the Nocussictionary (a dictionary of words to replace cuss words).
Ferris Boyd is not like anyone Delly has ever met before. Ferris doesn't talk and it's awfully hard to tell if Ferris is a boy or girl. The confusion over Ferris' gender causes more than one person to embarrass themselves and get in trouble.
I love every single character in this book. Delly Pattison, Ferris Boyd, brother RB, Officer Tibbets, and others are so believable that I was able to imagine them as people I might know or meet. There are no perfect people, everyone has their foibles, and these characters are no different. From Delly's father to the busy-body grocery clerk, Hannigan has captured their quirks and the essence of them in such a way that any reader can't help but want to know them better.
Delly is a good kid who's pretty rough around the edges. Always in trouble, Delly's shine and sparkle is slowly rubbed away until she knows, in her heart, that she's a bad kid. And then, when she makes her beloved Mother cry, Delly realizes that something has to change. So Delly starts counting (on the wise advice of her little brother) and asking questions. Slowly, Delly realizes that she does have some control over the situations in her life, and she can make better decisions.
But then comes Ferris Boyd, the new kid in Delly's class. Ferris Boyd doesn't speak, and you are not allowed to touch Ferris, but Delly soon finds herself in a unique position to communicate with Ferris. Delly and Ferris, along with Delly's little brother, slowly form a bond, which, eventually, saves Ferris...and Delly?
Delly is a character that has lived inside my soul since finishing this book. My first must read for 2011, this is a book to be savored, and remembered. Remembered not just for the very important message about Ferris Boyd, but especially for the very important lesson we learn through Delly.
Delly is a troublemaker. She doesn't mean to be bad or get into so much dang trouble, but her ideas always seem to lead her there. One day a new kid shows up. Is Ferris Boyd a boy or a girl? No one can decide. But one thing Delly does know about this mute Ferris that doesn't like being touched, is that Ferris is really, really good at basketball, can communicate telepathically with animals, and is hurting something bad inside. So, Delly decides to become her friend and slowly... slowly she stops getting into so much trouble.
First off, this book was such a surprise! I adore books about middle-graders and Delly was one of the most interesting and funny kids I've had the pleasure to meet. With her eccentric vocabulary, short fuse, scrappy ways, and heart of gold, you know this tale is about a truly human kid. Hannigan's other characters, from Delly's little bro, RB, to Brud, a stuttering boy outcast, to Ferris Boyd herself, encompass a profound truth about children that isn't often found in pop culture. These kids need to be themselves more than anything. That, and they need to be loved. And when they are loved, boy, are they unstoppably happy. Not only was I surprised by the characters but I was also taken aback and totally unprepared for how emotional this book turned out to be. I had to fight back tears at some parts and honestly, I can't remember doing that since reading "A Day No Pigs Would Die," by Richard Peck back in the 6th grade. So, yes, I would totally recommend this book and I simply can't wait to read Hannigan's other work.
-Sonia Pereira Murphy, author of "Snow Spell" available on Kindle.
"Delly Pattison was trouble: little trouble on the way to BIG trouble and getting closer to it everyday." So goes Hannigan's introduction to protagonist Delly, a young girl who looks forward to the spontaneous arrival of what she likes to call "surpresents" (surprise presents that come totally unexpectedly). Some recent turns of fate in her life seem to be pointing to bad times ahead, but a new family in town may hold the key to changing all that negativity into positivity instead.
Hannigan has a kid-friendly way not only with characters but also with verbiage. In fact, there are plenty of unique words that make kids take notice double quick, like "dellyventures" (Delly's adventures, which seem to require their own definition) and "lugdraggerers" (you'll have to read the book to figure this one out!) Hannigan's attempts are all successful, and I wouldn't be surprised to see some of these terms make their way into our lexicon for good.
The interactions among the characters read like a Preston Sturges story --- the names, the attitudes and the situations are all wacky and funny, but underneath reveal a deeper and more heartfelt look at the world of kids and their social associations. Delly's eccentricities, her "dellyventures," have no fans in her school, so there are some serious obstacles to overcome. But just because an adult doesn't really get what she's doing, is she really trouble? Or is she just a true original?
TRUE (...SORT OF) engages readers with fun and lively language, short chapters and constant excitement, as well as worry about the main characters and the morass that Delly drags them all into at various points in the book. However, even though the kids know they all need to stay out of trouble in school, Delly's unbridled enthusiasm for life keeps them coming back for more. And then she meets Ferris Boyd, a new recruit to town, a young girl who is a mystery to the other kids but who finds a kinship with Delly that turns the novel on its head.
From the adorable trim size to the beautiful cover art to the crazy, fun characters and events, TRUE (...SORT OF) is the kind of book that all kids will enjoy, regardless of reading level or life experience thus far. It looks at the adventurous spirit of childhood through the eyes of an exciting and hilarious new icon of kids' lit. I hope Delly finds her way back to us in another book.
--- Reviewed by Jana Siciliano
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