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Publishers Weekly Review
With a nod to Beverly Cleary's Dear Mr. Henshaw, Grindley's (Spilled Water) big-hearted novel reveals the correspondence between nine-year-old Max and his favorite author, D.J. Lucas. Max confides to the writer that he wants to begin a story, and asks her to help him. It turns out that she is "in the same boat"; her editor has asked her to write a new book, yet her imagination has left her "completely stranded." Suddenly inspired, D.J. informs her pen pal that she has launched a story about a nine-year-old boy." Kindly and humorously, D.J. slips into her letters snippets of writing advice and encouragement, while subtly addressing problems to which the boy alludes: he misses his father, is not able to eat what he likes and dreads going to the doctor. Grindley's smooth pacing lets readers learn the particulars of Max's issues over time. When the boy muses on how to deal with the bad guys in his fictional story (stand-ins for a class bully), D.J. advises him to "Grit your teeth, Max. Use that big imagination of yours to make things better." The resourceful child does, with rewarding results. Other aspiring writers may well find inspiration in this portrait of a mutually fulfilling rapport. Ages 6-9. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
School Library Journal Review
Gr 2-4-A nine-year-old boy and his favorite author forge a bond in this heartwarming tale. Though they never meet in person, young Max and D.J. Lucas slowly reveal themselves through a year's worth of letters, postcards, and drawings. Over time, Lucas learns that Max is the smallest kid in his class and the target of a school bully; that he and his mother are on their own, since his father died several years before; and that he suffers from a serious medical issue. Despite all of this, Max uses his fantastic imagination to create stories in which the bad guys always get their just rewards. Max discovers that Lucas is more famous than he thought, making her correspondence even more special. She coaches him as he writes his story, thus illuminating the author's craft for readers by simply explaining topics such as character and plot development. Max helps Lucas write her new book by serving as a model for her main character. The author's voice comes through loud and clear. Clever line drawings, attributed to Max, appear throughout. Teachers looking for a good launch point for writers' workshops will appreciate this book. Children will enjoy the subtle way the story unfolds and the unique relationship it portrays.-Nicki Clausen-Grace, Carillon Elementary School, Oviedo, FL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Gr. 2-4. Nine-year-old Max, an only child who lives with his widowed mother, corresponds with his favorite author, D. J. Lucas. In short, mostly humorous letters and postcards, the two trade personal experiences and writing suggestions (Max wants to become an author; D. J. is agonizing over her latest book). Max shares his troubles with bullies and illness, and D. J. describes her school visits, book signings, and fears about parachuting. The result is a charming story full of likable, multidimensional characters that will inspire young writers and satisfy readers who always wanted Beverly Cleary's character Leigh Botts to get an answer from his favorite author in Dear Mr. Henshaw0 (1983). Ross' line\b \b0 drawings add to the fun. This will be a popular choice with first chapter-book readers, especially those with an interest in writing. The author's Web site indicates a sequel is in the works. --Kay Weisman Copyright 2006 Booklist
Kirkus Book Review
Nine-year-old Max strikes up a friendship with his favorite author, D.J. Lucas in this epistolary novel. The letters fly, from January to December, as Max shares his school challenges, family sadness and medical woes. D.J. is a good listener and knows how to respond to a little boy's concerns. And she has her own worries--from her fears over sky-diving to the challenges of writing a novel that does not want to be written. Ross's childlike illustrations dot many of the letters and are a perfect light touch. Grindley stays true to the letter format, asking few probing questions, which let D.J. (and the reader) fill in the unspoken spaces. This should inspire children to write letters to authors--and others in their lives. The friendship that develops is real and honest and sustaining to both child and adult. A tribute to the power of letter-writing and imagination. (Fiction. 6-9) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.