What happens when a prank goes too far?
It's not that Trina isn't nice. She and her best friend, Sara, are the strongest students in class, but they're not stuck-up about it. She's not as mean as Thea or as, well, as dumb as Frankie. Trina doesn't even mind talking to Carlos - as long as it's before school starts and no one else is around.
But Carlos is just... So... WEIRD. He scratches himself all the time and then he talks in this weird, annoying, shaky voice. He totally disrupts class, but he doesn't even get in trouble for it; in fact, everyone ELSE seems to get in trouble for stuff that's Carlos's fault.
So now there's a plan. Carlos is gonne GET it. On the upcoming class trip. Trina and her friends are gonne make sure of it.
Except that it doesn't exactly feel right. And Trina's not sure she shouldn't call it off before something really awful happens. Or even if she can do it in time...
Reviews and Awards
“The African American and white students from Dorchester, MA and their neighborhood are realistically and sympathetically portrayed by Emerson, who has taught elementary and middle school in Boston and clearly knows the milieu well. This examination of what real friendship entails would make a good choice for middle school book discussion groups.” – KLIATT
⋆ "The jungle of middle-school peer pressure is the setting of this gripping story about seventh-graders in Boston who gang up on their troubled classmate, Carlos. The story is told from the viewpoint of Trina, a nice, smart African-American girl who does not want to hurt Carlos, but she cannot stand up to her friends who bully him. Then she is appointed to be his partner in a science project, and she learns his secrets, especially his fear of "aliens." The class uses the information to plan a trick even as Trina discovers that she cares for Carlos. The author is a middle-grade teacher, and he perfectly captures the classroom power struggles of friends and enemies, as well as the terror of being an outsider if you don't go along with the group. The dialogue is right on, as is the hurt of betrayal and the guilt that cannot be resolved. In the exciting climax, the class plays their prank during a lightning storm in the mountains, and the setting is part of the drama as a city kid discovers the sense of space on the mountaintop and the feeling of being a giant and a speck at the same time." - Booklist, starred review
"Emerson’s ability to write realistic dialogue and his understanding of the dynamics of middle-school cliques and their inherent power struggles are evident here. The detailed, original and somewhat mysterious nature of Carlos’s idiosyncrasies adds a real spark to this now familiar tale of bullying." - Kirkus Reviews
“Even when she's in the wrong, Trina's authentic voice and good (but fallible) nature keep her endeared to readers.” - Seattle Times
“Emerson makes the tug-of-war within Trina - between her growing empathy for Carlos and her desire to fit in with her friends - realistic and compelling…. Trina's narration is authentic, and dialogue involving parents, teachers and classmates feels lifelike, too.” - Publishers Weekly
“Emerson deftly juggles a collection of motivations and inclinations, both positive and negative, for Trina and sets into motion a complicated classroom dynamic... The book also creates a vivid world for Trina and her classmates: they’re a believable contingent for an urban public school, and Trina’s voice is lively and individual, with her taste for making idiosyncratic lists (Number 1 on “Problems That Carlos Has”: “He’s too small all the time”) adding readerly interest as well as personality.... Readers will find much to discuss here, and they may recognize analogous dynamics at play in their own peer groups.” - Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
Middle Grade Novel
Price: $16.99 / $18.99
Trim Size: 5 1/2" x 8 1/4"
Page Count: 304
Foreign Rights: Sterling Lord Literistic
Translation Rights: Sterling Lord Literistic
Rights Available? yes