Amazon calculates a product’s star ratings based on a machine learned model instead of a raw data average. The model takes into account factors including the age of a rating, whether the ratings are from verified purchasers, and factors that establish reviewer trustworthiness.
I love this author and she did not fail with this story. As a school librarian, I read children books during the summer so I know what to recommend to students. I think most kids have fantasy about building amazing secret club house, forts, tree houses etc. This story will definitely feed their imagination. The characters are quirky, interesting and readers easily get invested in them. I will definitely be recommending this book to my 3rd through 5th graders. I have read Pax and Clementine, also written by Pennypacker; I also loved those stories too. I will encourage students to read any book by Sara Pennypacker.
I cried nonstop from page 295 and page 307! Oh my goodness! What a touching story! It is all about accepting yourself, your life circumstances, yet never giving up on hopes and dreams, even if they seem unrealistic. It had a slow start. Then I was glad that I am a person who has a hard time abandoning books (accepting myself!). It is the best $0.99 that I ever spent. I think I am going to have my children’s literature students buy their own copy.
So genuine and beautifully written. Sara Pennypacker is a treasure. Her work conjures decades old vivid memories of my own formative years. This book is filled with therapeutic affirmation for young readers and bittersweet nostalgia for older readers. Highly recommended.
Reviewed in the United States on February 28, 2020
I really wasn’t sure how I felt about this book until I was a few chapters in and then, well I loved this book! Ware had just witnessed his grandmother being whisked off to the hospital and now his summer plans were ruined. He didn’t want his parent’s Plan B for his summer, that is, until he found a tree. Climbing that tree was the beginning of Ware’s own Plan B.
Ware’s parents had a goal for the summer and they immediately found an alternative plan for Ware when his grandmother could no longer care for him over the summer. Ware didn’t want his parent’s alternative plan, and he was now, begging and bribing his parents to change their minds. In the end, nothing worked.
Plan B. Most everything looked the same as it did years ago, as the building appeared before him. Ware knew he couldn’t live out the rest of this summer at the Rec. This was daycare and he was now 11 ½, this place is not for him. I loved Ware’s attitude; at times, he acted older than he was yet there’s still that child within him. Ware finds his escape during exercise class, when he spots a huge tree in the lot next door. Believing that the tree would provide the perfect cover, he scales it. How long can Ware hide up in the tree?
Ware had studied medieval times at school and he was becoming obsessed with castles, knights and various items from that era. His plans at his grandmothers to build a replica were now cancelled but now sitting in this tree, Ware remembered the church that was on this lot. Shock came over him, as he noticed that the church had been destroyed and was now lying in pieces. Ware notices a girl digging in the dirt, behind the church. Trying to remain undetected, Ware creeps closer yet the girls spots him immediately.
Instantly, Jolene take control of the situation. She announces that this area is hers and that Ware needs to leave immediately! I thought this was funny when I first read it. It totally took Ware off-guard. I wasn’t expecting Ware to fight back but he did. He also took control. He told Jolene that the church was his and her response…..well, she would just have to see about that.
I liked how the two of them fit together. Ware needed a space and the damaged church provided that for him. Actually, it provided more than just a space for him to hang out but I’m not going to spoil the book for you. Jolene needed the space behind the damaged church. You might be thinking, what is Jolene doing? Well, Jolene is having some issues at home so she needs this space behind the church. They also needed each other, sometimes more than the physical space. There are also problems because the lot has a sign on it and the sign means problems for more than just these two.
Jolene and Ware worked hard and tried to transform the area that they were now trying to claim as their own. I enjoyed reading about this and how they got along. The references to the baptistry, the “do-over tub, the “sinner” tub, and the moat made this a fun book to read. I loved how Ware alluded his mother each day when she dropped him off at the Rec. Ware wanted to tell his mother what he was doing but he overheard her talking one day and he now knows, that he can’t. He then tries hard to be a knight and abide by the Knight’s Code that he has memorized. I really enjoyed it when Uncle Cy and Ashley were added to the story, they were wonderful characters and I feel that they added a great deal to the story.
What an excellent story, I really enjoyed it. It was crazy good! The ending gave me goosebumps as I was shedding happy tears.
“don’t ask to be normal- you’re better than that.”
Ware can’t wait for summer. He’ll be spending it with his beloved grandmother and will be swimming everyday. His plans suddenly change when Grandma, “Big Deal”, falls and breaks both hips. This means Ware has to return to the dreaded Rec Center for another boring summer full of “meaningful social interactions” which will hopefully turn him into his mom and dad’s version of a “normal kid”; one who loves sports and wants to spend every waking minute with friends. On the first day of Rec Center, Ware climbs a tree and discovers another world beyond the fence. He meets a fiercely proud and determined girl, Jolene, who is creating an urban garden with the seeds from rotten fruit, amongst the ruins of a church. Slowly, together they create a refuge out of the ruins; a true urban oasis.
Sara Pennypacker, the author who brought us the memorable story of Pax a few years ago, has created a touching tale of friendship, family, the knights’ code of chivalry and heroes. She slowly introduces us to Jolene and Ware, two twelve year old children who desperately need each other, even though they would never admit it.
I loved Ware’s endless energy and creativity as he worked to build a castle from the remnants of the old church, and his vow to always follow the knight’s code of chivalry “thou shalt do battle against unfairness whenever faced with it” even when it leads Jolene to accuse him of living in “magic fairness land”. I was thrilled when, after days and weeks of hearing this accusation, Ware finally realized “I don’t want things to be magically what they’re not. I want them to be what they could be. And somebody has to want that, or nothing bad will ever get better.”
I loved seeing Jolene’s resourcefulness and determination as she created her urban garden. I admired her when she found the courage to allow Ware a glimpse into her life and to understand she not only needed a friend, but she needed help. In other words, she needed a hero. She needed someone to teach her the real world could be more than she thought. She needed to understand “bad stuff happens. But the real world is also all the things we do about the bad stuff. We’re the real world, too.”
I’ll be thinking about Ware and Jolene for a very long time. Their story is one that grabs your heart and doesn’t let go. It’s the book so many of us are looking for right now. Please read this book and please share it with anyone in grades 3+. You’ll be so glad you did!
Ware spends his summers with his Grandma, Big Deal, because his busy mom and dad are working all the time, trying to buy the house they’re renting. When something happens to Big Deal, Ware’s parents tell him that he must spend his days at summer rec camp, having “Meaningful Social Interaction” with other kids. But Ware is a kid that thrives on being in his own head, creating scenarios for the Knights he loves to learn about and their Code of Chivalry.
On the first day, he ditches rec camp and finds an old, abandoned church nearby. There he meets Jolene, a tough, secretive girl who’s using the lot to plant a garden. Soon Ware skips rec daily to be in the lot where he plans to build a castle-like space for himself. Jolene teases him, calling him a dreamer and telling him that he doesn’t live in the “real world” like she does. Though they are as different as can be, the lot is a place of refuge for them both. Until one day, the lot is threatened, and Ware must follow the Knights’ Code to try and save the space he loves most.
This was the book I needed to read right now. Slowly paced, deep characters who o grew to love, and beautiful themes. Highly recommend for MG classrooms & libraries!