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Honestly Elliott
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Publishers Weekly Review
After being rebuffed by his friends for interrupting and becoming distracted, aspiring chef Elliott, who is white and has ADHD, partners with perfectionistic schoolmate Maribel, cued as Latinx, who has celiac disease, to establish a gluten-free pie business for a final school project. Upping the stakes is Elliott's hope of earning enough money selling pies during the year-end festival to reimburse his father for a window broken during The Incident--something Elliott refuses to discuss even with his therapist--which he'd otherwise have to fund from the savings he's painstakingly set aside to attend summer cooking camp. The sixth graders' initially rocky partnership gives way to camaraderie and trust as they develop their recipe for a delicious, gluten-friendly product that proves their critics wrong. Interjecting footnotes that mimic the way Elliott's brain processes information, McDunn (These Unlucky Stars) offers an affirming and nuanced depiction of empathetic and creative Elliott's experience of ADHD, including the way his executive dysfunction can result in disorganization, impulsivity, resistance to change, and low self-worth. Elliott's relationship with his father, from whom he craves acceptance despite his dad's failure to acknowledge Elliott's specific challenges, is particularly inspiring as the two work toward openness and understanding. Ages 8--11. Agent: Marietta Zacker, Gallt & Zacker Literary. (Mar.)
School Library Journal Review
Gr 4--7--A novel full of heart, humor, and honesty. Elliott is your typical kid dealing with his parents' divorce, his best friend moving away, a baby brother being born, not fitting in at his new school, nearly failing sixth grade--and on top of it all, Attention Deficient Hyperactivity Disorder. His passion for cooking drives him to want to do better so he can go to an awesome cooking camp in the summer. When his big school project comes up, he sees it as an opportunity to pay for camp and prove to his dad that cooking is a worthwhile endeavor. But when Elliott's so-called friends refuse to work with him, he ends up making an unexpected ally and convincing her that his cooking skills can get her an A. Elliot is an instantly lovable character, and readers will be hooked from the very first chapter. McDunn provides an honest look into ADHD and normalizes male characters exploring their feelings through therapy, which is a refreshing take on navigating a complicated dad-son relationship. Middle graders will be able to see themselves as Elliot through his various interests and relationships. Those with ADHD may appreciate this reflective text as a glimpse inside the brain of a middle schooler with ADHD. VERDICT This is a must-have for any library servicing middle grade readers; Elliot's struggles are commonplace, and his story is told from a place of warmth and humor, which makes those realities a little less painful and the lessons included easier to digest.--Erin Decker
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