This fall I attended a conference that included a presentation by the University of Northern Iowa's Childrens Librarian. She book talked many good titles - titles that are must haves for a limited budget. Among them was Rachel Spinelli Punched Me in the Face by Paul Acampora. This is a slim novel, yet there is much within these pages.
Zachary and his dad have moved from Colorado to Connecticut after his parents divorce. He is ready for a fresh start and quickly makes friends with the neighbors- or at least he makes friends with teenager Teddy, a gentle giant, and his younger sister, Rachel, who spends much of her time trying to take care of her big brother. Rachel is used to having to defend Teddy and often treats him as though he is a child. Zachary is still trying to come to terms with his mom leaving their family, and takes note of the fact that Rachel and Teddy are also motherless. Rachel and Teddy learn a few things from Zachary and he learns a few lessons from them as well.
I loved this book, but am still on the fence about whether I will buy this book for my elementary library. Zachary is in ninth grade and while there is nothing inappropriate in this book or too mature, I am not sure how many boy readers I have that will be interested in any hint of a little crush between Zachary and Rachel. While the main character in this novel is Zachary and I instantly think of boy readers, I also think many girls will enjoy this book as well. I could see a larger female audience in my school reading this one.
Acampora's first novel, Defining Dulcie, received many honors and starred reviews when it was published. While the cover picture is familiar to me, I have no recollection of reading it. I have already placed a hold on it at my library - I am very interested to read more by this talented author who has created characters that seem very real.