Fifth-grader Claire can do a perfect triple handspring. She can do a giant pirouette on the uneven bars. What she can't do is read. With a lot of effort, she hides her secret until an alert vice principal suggests she get evaluated for a learning disability. Now Claire has to convince her mother---who's afraid her daughter will be labeled 'stupid'--- to let her get tested. And that turns out to be even harder than reading.
Written in high-energy verse and with black-and- white illustrations, Claire's story shows the courage it takes to seek help---whether in school, the gym, or anywhere else---and celebrates those brave enough to ask for it.
PW star - Fullerton authentically and compassionately portrays cued-white fifth grader Claire’s experience with dyslexia in this easily digestible verse novel. Claire excels at gymnastics and can pick up a routine faster than anyone in her gym. But at school, her difficulty reading (“Letters/ float, blur/ backward/ forward/ upside down/ all mixed up”), coupled with her classmates’ jeers, causes self-doubt. When vice principal Mr. McKay suggests she may have a learning disability, Claire is eager to undergo evaluation; her mother, however, who believes Claire just isn’t trying hard enough, refuses to get her tested. With help from her gymnastics teammates, older sister, best friend, and Mr. McKay, Claire is empowered to advocate for herself and what she needs to succeed. Printed in a typeface formatted for those with reading challenges, Fullerton’s flowing verse adeptly captures what dyslexia is like for Claire alongside her frustration around convincing her mother that she’s trying hard but needs assistance. This insightful story carries a strong message for teachers, caregivers, and children alike, and Mensinga’s emotive illustrations provide depth
throughout. Ages 8-12
Kirkus star -When letters on pages flip around faster than her tumbling routines, a young
girl tries to perfect a tricky skill in this verse novel.
Claire excels at gymnastics and plans to compete at the state championship soon. But she struggles with reading and writing skills and feels that a fifth grader like her should be able to do what her 5-year-old cousins easily can. She gets by with a stellar memory, her best friend, Emma Lea, writing out her homework, and good improvisation skills. Still, Claire’s teacher chastises her for both her schoolwork and her frustrated outbursts in class. Her divorced parents can’t help much, what with her dad living across the country and her mom refusing to believe Claire could have a learning disability. Thankfully, a supportive vice principal, Emma Lea, her team, and Claire’s older sister all make an effort to help Claire push through her learning disability, which she desperately wants. The resolution feels a tad rushed, but it’s an uplifting one nevertheless. Designed with accessibility in mind (the typeface is meant to be easily decoded), the text stresses that learning disabilities are in no way a bad thing. Fullerton offers readers a glimpse into what it’s like to try to read with difficulties.
A positive representation of perseverance.
SLJ -recommended Fifth grader Claire is a successful competitive gymnast, but she is unable to find the same success in school. She compensates for her inability to read by getting her best friend Emma Lea to do her homework and by listening to audiobooks to complete book reports. Her embarrassment in class leads to conflict with her teacher, and classmates begin to bully Claire. The vice principal, Mr. McCay, suspects Claire has a learning disability, but Claire’s mother refuses to let the school test her. Fortunately, Claire receives support from her older sister, her best friend, and her gymnastics teammates. The book, based on the author’s personal experience growing up with dyslexia, offers an authentic portrayal of children with learning disabilities. Readers will empathize with Claire as she struggles with feeling “stupid” and will support her journey. The quick-moving plot comes with a satisfying ending, and the free-verse narrative provides plenty of helpful white space for reluctant readers. VERDICT Recommended for students seeking realistic fiction about characters with learning disabilities similar to Alyson Gerber’s Focused, and for those who enjoy reading books written in free verse.