I picked up this title off the top of my TBR stack and one thought came to mind… Didn’t I read this already? I checked my reviews for the past year and sure enough I reviewed a book called SOAR by Joan Bauer. It’s an inspirational story about a baseball loving boy who can’t play because of a heart condition.
But this new SOAR has a different cover because it’s a different story. Strange that publishers doubled up on this title especially since they were both released the same year. I did discover names of books are not copyrighted in this helpful article.
Now that this confusion rests, I’ll get on with telling you about the heartfelt tale of Eddie. He’s a birder like his father who recently passed away. After not reading any books where the main character has birding as a hobby, I’ve read two this summer (THE DRAKE EQUATION is the other).
As a new seventh grader, Eddie’s voice rings true. He misses his dad, there’s a new girl in the neighborhood he likes, and his personal bully is after him again. This bully is different than most because Mouton has Tourette’s. He shouts out what seem like random phrases (Eddie-Shovel-Truck) and continually repeats them.
Eddie’s quest to find a Golden Eagle in his neighborhood and to win a blue ribbon at the science symposium is what he wants the most. All of his problems and goals collide to provide a winning conclusion. Eddie is a character you won’t long forget.
PUBLICATION DATE: 2016 PAGE COUNT: 288
FULL PLOT (From Simon & Schuster) Eddie learned everything there is to know about birding from his dad, including the legend of the Golden Eagle, which Dad claimed he saw once down near Miss Dorothy’s pond. According to his dad, the Golden Eagle had wings wider than a creek and talons the size of bulldozer claws. But when Eddie was in sixth grade, Dad “flew away” for good, leaving Eddie on his own to await the return of the elusive raptor.
Now Eddie is starting seventh grade and trying to impress Gabriella, the new girl in town. The annual seventh grade Science Symposium (which Dad famously won) is looming, and Eddie is determined to claim the blue ribbon for himself. With Mr. Dover, the science teacher who was Dad’s birding rival, seemingly against him, and with Mouton, the class bully, making his life miserable on all fronts, Eddie is determined to overcome everything and live up to Dad’s memory. Can Eddie soar and make his dream take flight?
FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT: SOAR by Tracy Edward Wymer
- When Eddie sees a bird he draws it and adds the information in his journal. He also adds a comment and question to his dad. They tell the underlying story of the hurt inside Eddie.
- Two themes common to middle grade kids are friendship and loyalty. They are both put to the test here in a fulfilling way.
- Included in the back of the book are Eddie’s Bird Log and a nice bibliography on where to go for more information on birds.
- The character of Eddie is spot on for a seventh grade boy. He knows the difference between right and wrong, but sometimes the wrong rears its ugly head and leads him to trouble. Eddie also is sensitive to the happenings around him and deals with the sometimes hurtful facts in a typical way for this age group.
- The chapters are short and usually end with a perfect kicker to make you read another.
FAVORITE LINE: There’s something else to know about Mouton. He has Tourette’s syndrome, a brain disorder that makes him blurt out words, even if it’s at inappropriate times. The worst part is when he gets stuck on a word or phrase and then repeats until you can’t take it anymore. My mom says they’re called vocal tics. Mouton has the same one all the time (Yip!), which gets worse when he’s nervous. I know I’m supposed to ignore his outbursts, but it’s hard to do that when he makes my life miserable on purpose.
AUTHOR QUOTE: School was not kind to me. Or should I say, I was not kind to school. I was a class clown and never made outstanding grades. The funny thing is, I really enjoyed reading, just not the books teachers wanted me to read. When I wasn’t outside playing baseball, you could usually find me on the couch with a book–probably Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (by Roald Dahl) or something similar. (Read more at Tracy’s Author Web Site)
Make a comment if you have time. I enjoy reading all of them. Click on the comments link below.
Check the links to other Middle Grade novels over at Shannon Messenger’s Marvelous Middle Grade Monday post.