Better than Weird

Better Than Weird Aaron's father is coming home after eight years away and he's promised to bring a surprise. Aaron can hardly wait. He already has lists of all the things he wants to do with his dad.

Problem is Aaron knows he's 'just a little different'. We can't all be the same," his Gran says. But is he too different? Is he as weird as Tufan, the class bully, says? Will his dad 'take one look and disappear again'?

Aaron decides to stop being weird. He'll finish all his schoolwork. He'll be in the Voices of Winter concert. He'll follow all the advice he gets from his friend Jeremy and from Karen, his counselor.

Unfortunately things don't go as planned. During rehearsal Aaron falls off the risers and Ms. Masilo, the music teacher doesn't want him in the choir. Then he has several run-ins with Tufan who threatens to 'get even', and Jeremy finds him too annoying to stay friends.

When his dad finally arrives, Aaron doesn't make a good first impression. "He's not what I expected," his dad says. He sounds disappointed. Will he stay? And what about that surprise? It's not what Aaron or his Gran expected at all.

Awards:

2012 Silver Birch Awards nominee

2012 SYRCA Diamond Willow Award nominee

2012 OLA Best Bets

2012 CCBC Best Books (starred)

2012 Notable Books for a Global Society Book Award

2012 IODE Toronto Chapter Jean Throop Book Award

2012 Bank Street College of Education Best Books (starred)

REVIEWS:

Kirkus Reviews - February 15, 2011

 "This moving story looks at both family and school life from the point of view of a boy trying hard to fit into a world he doesn't quite understand...The details of school life are believable and familiar, and the ending leaves Aaron and readers waiting for a hopeful outcome...This companion book [to The Mealworm Diaries] stands alone but will surely send readers back to read the first."

 

Quill & Quire - March 1, 2011

[Starred review] "Aaron doesn't know his father at all. He is both excited and terrified by the impending reunion-and so are we...Kerz is brilliant at describing these challenges from Aaron's perspective, and she does so without a trace of sentimentality...It's a messy and far from perfect outcome for Aaron, but after spending some time with his own messy imperfections, we wouldn't have it any other way."

 Resource Links - February 1, 2011

"The story moves quickly and for those who enjoyed the humour in The Mealworm Diaries, they will certainly enjoy this title...Would be a good addition to a young readers' fiction collection in both school and public libraries. Aaron Waite is a unique, well-formed character who, like Joey Pigza in Jack Gantos' Joey Series, captures our sympathy and we read on because we want him to succeed."

CM Magazine - February 25, 2011

"A stand-alone sequel to Anna Kerz's excellent Mealworm Diaries. Aaron is a credible, well-rounded character, as are Gran, Tufan, Dad, and all of the other characters. Better Than Weird is simply told, yet rich with wonderful metaphors and believable surprises. Kerz's style makes this a story that will appeal to readers of all levels. Highly Recommended."

Booklist - April 1, 2011

"In a long line of recent books about kids with autism, Kerz's effort nevertheless shines, primarily because in Aaron she has created a kid who captures readers' complete interest as he struggles with his quirks and tries to be, as the title puts it, better than weird...Life's complications are delicately handled by Kerz, who weaves a multilayered tale. Jeremy's forgiving nature allows Aaron to handle the glitches in his behavior, because, as Jeremy points out, quoting his own father, "If everything goes smoothly all the time, we'll never have good stories to tell." A heartwarming read for fans of realistic fiction."