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Barnaby Brocket is an ordinary 8-year-old boy in most ways, but he was born different in one important way: he floats. Unlike everyone else, Barnaby does not obey the law of gravity. His parents, who have a horror of being noticed, want desperately for Barnaby to be normal, but he can't help who he is. And when the unthinkable happens, Barnaby finds himself on a journey that takes him all over the world. From Brazil to New York, Canada to Ireland, and even to space, the floating boy meets all sorts of different people—and discovers who he really is along the way.
This whimsical novel will delight middle graders, and make readers of all ages question the meaning of normal.
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JOHN BOYNE was born in Ireland in 1971 and is the author of six novels for adults. His first novel for children, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, won two Irish Book Awards, was shortlisted for the British Book Award, and has been made into a film. His novels are published in over 30 languages. He lives in Dublin.
OLIVER JEFFERS is an internationally acclaimed author-illustrator. His first picture book, How to Catch a Star (HarperCollins) was published in 2004 and since then he has created a further five picture books to much critical acclaim. He has won the Irish Book Award (where he first met John Boyne), the Blue Peter Book of the Year and the Nestlé Children's Book Prize as well as a host of shortlistings including the prestigious Kate Greenaway Medal. His books have been translated into 19 languages.
Gr 5-7-Barnaby Brocket was born with an extraordinary gift: he floats. At the age of eight, he is "lost" by his parents after his mother cuts open the sandbag-filled backpack that anchors him to the earth. (Obsessed with being "normal," they rival some of Roald Dahl's crueler fictional caregivers.) Barnaby floats away on adventure after adventure, which include being taken in by a couple in a hot-air balloon, saved by an impoverished artist cleaning the Chrysler building in New York City, and kidnapped by the owner of "Freakitude" (a group made up of folks as odd as Barnaby). Throughout his odyssey, the protagonist, showing an extraordinary level of innocence and trust, wants only to return home to Sydney. When he finally does so, his ability to float is determined to have been caused by some imbalance in his ears that could be surgically corrected. This fablelike story includes plenty of stock characters who serve the author's message: that people should be free to be themselves. However, the message is significantly tempered by the fact that Barnaby's gift also makes him dependent on others to not float away. Jeffers's whimsical drawings reveal both the humor and pathos of his situation. Readers looking for an action-filled story with a strong message may enjoy this one.-Sue Giffard, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, New York Cityα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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