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    A Well-Written Tale of the Fifth Grade

    DETOURS AND DESIGNS tells the story of an 11-year-old boy navigating his way through fifth-grade in the town of Emerson. Drew, the protagonist, finds something interesting in his science book that inspires him to go on a mission to find the source. The mission takes Drew and his friends, Jeff and Tommy, through a myriad of typical tough scenarios for 11-year-olds, including bullies, test taking integrity, honesty in many forms, and even talking to the most popular girl in school. Along the way to the mission’s close, Drew forms important thoughts about friendship, people’s feelings around him, and who people truly are on the inside as opposed to how they appear on the outside. Matt Fazio’s and Josh Malacki’s writing in DETOURS AND DESIGNS is impressive on many fronts. Much of the story is told through dialogue between 11-year-olds and is spot on for children of this age. Even the thoughts of the characters in the book really allow the reader to sink into the child’s mind putting forth the thoughts. The authors manage to introduce and then support many very positive and meaningful morals as the story unfolds. Although the middle grade reader may not realize it is happening due to the primary goings on in the story at the time, virtually every middle grade reader will come out of this reading experience with bolstered up positive thoughts on honesty, evaluating people, scholastic integrity, importance of parents, theft, and being true to one’s self. Although the book may appeal to some middle grade female readers, I feel certain boys ages 8 to 12 will enjoy and get the most from this work.
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