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Absolutely Almost

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Albie has never been the smartest kid in his class. He has never been the tallest. Or the best at gym. Or the greatest artist. Or the most musical. In fact, Albie has a long list of the things he's not very good at. But then Albie gets a new babysitter, Calista, who helps him figure out all of the things he is good at and how he can take pride in himself.

288 pages, Hardcover

First published June 1, 2014

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About the author

Lisa Graff

24 books477 followers
Lisa Graff is the critically acclaimed and award-winning author of the National Book Award nominee A Tangle of Knots, as well as Lost in the Sun, Absolutely Almost, Double Dog Dare, Umbrella Summer, The Life and Crimes of Bernetta Wallflower, The Thing About Georgie and Sophie Simon Solves Them All. Originally from California, she lived for many years in New York City and now makes her home just outside of Philadelphia.

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Profile Image for Betsy.
Author 8 books2,823 followers
July 8, 2014
In the stage musical of Matilda, lyricist Tim Minchin begins the show with the following lines about the state of children today: “Specialness is de rigueur. / Above average is average. Go fig-ueur! / Is it some modern miracle of calculus / That such frequent miracles don't render each one un-miraculous?” This song ran on a bit of a loop through my cranium as I read Lisa Graff latest middle grade novel Absolutely Almost. For parents, how well your child does reflects right back on you. Your child is a genius? Congratulations! You must be a genius for raising a genius. Your child is above average? Kudos to you. Wait, your child is average? Uh-oh. For some parents nothing in the world could be more embarrassing. We all want our kids to do well in school, but where do you distinguish between their happiness and how hard you’re allowed to push them to do their best? Do you take kindness into account when you’re adding up all their other sterling qualities? Maybe the wonder of Absolutely Almost is that it’s willing to give us an almost unheard of hero. Albie is not extraordinary in any possible way and he would like you to be okay with that. The question then is whether or not child readers will let him.

Things aren’t easy for Albie. He’s not what you’d call much of a natural at anything. Reading and writing is tough. Math’s a headache. He’s not the world’s greatest artist and he’s not going to win any awards for his wit. That said, Albie’s a great kid. If you want someone kind and compassionate, he’s your man. When he finds himself with a new babysitter, a girl named Calista who loves art, he’s initially skeptical. She soon wins him over, though, and good thing too since there are a lot of confusing things going on in his life. One day he’s popular and another he’s not. He’s been kicked out of his old school thanks to his grades. Then there’s the fact that his best friend is part of a reality show . . . well, things aren’t easy for Albie. But sometimes, when you’re not the best at anything, you can make it up to people by simply being the best kind of person.

Average people are tough. They don’t naturally lend themselves to great works of literature generally unless they’re a villain or the butt of a joke. Lots of heroes are billed as “average heroes” but how average are they really? Put another way, would they ever miscalculate a tip? Our fantasy books are full to overflowing of average kids finding out that they’re extraordinary (Percy Jackson, Harry Potter, Meg Murry, etc.). Now imagine that the book kept them ordinary. Where do you go from there? Credit where credit is due to Lisa Graff then. The literary challenge of retaining a protagonist’s everyday humdrum status is intimidating. Graff wrestles with the idea and works it to her advantage. For example, the big momentous moment in this book is when it turns out that Albie doesn’t have dyslexia and just isn’t good at reading. I’ve never seen that in a book for kids before, and it was welcome. It made it clear what kind of book we're dealing with.

As a librarian who has read a LOT of children’s books starring “average” kids, I kept waiting for that moment when Albie discovered he had a ridiculously strong talent for, say, ukulele or poker or something. It never came. It never came and I was left realizing that it was possible that it never would. Kids are told all the time that someday they’ll find that thing that’ll make them unique. Well what if they don’t? What happens then? Absolutely Almost is willing to tell them the truth. There’s a wonderful passage where Calista and Albie are discussing the fact that he may never find something he’s good at. Calista advises, “Find something you’d want to keep doing forever… even if you stink at it. And then, if you’re lucky, with lots of practice, then one day you won’t stink so much.” Albie points out, correctly, that he might still stink at it and what then? Says Calista, “Then won’t you be glad you found something you love?”

Mind you, average heroes run a big risk. Absolutely Almost places the reader in a difficult position. More than one kid is going to find themselves angry with Albie for being dense. But the whole point of the book is that he’s just not the sharpest pencil in the box. Does that make the reader sympathetic then to his plight or a bully by proxy? It’s the age-old problem of handing the reader the same information as the hero but allowing them to understand more than that hero. If you’re smarter than the person you’re reading about, does that make you angry or understanding? I suppose it depends on the reader and the extent to which they can relate to Albie’s problem. Still, I would love to sit in on a kid book discussion group as they talked about Albie. Seems to me there will be a couple children who find their frustration with his averageness infuriating. The phrase “Choose Kind” has been used to encourage kids not to bully kids that look different than you. I’d be interested in a campaign that gave as much credence to encouraging kids not to bully those other children that aren’t as smart as they are.

I’ve followed the literary career of Lisa Graff for years and have always enjoyed her books. But with Absolutely Almost I really feel like she’s done her best work. The book does an excellent job of showing without telling. For example, Albie discusses at one point how good he is at noticing things then relates a teacher’s comment that, “if you had any skill at language, you might’ve made a very fine writer.” Graff then simply has Albie follow up that statement with a simple “That’s what she said.” You’re left wondering if he picked up on the inherent insult (or was it just a truth?) in that. Almost in direct contrast, in a rare moment of insight, his dad says something about Albie that’s surprising in its accuracy. “I think the hard thing for you, Albie... is not going to be getting what you want in life, but figuring out what that is.” I love a book that has the wherewithal to present these different sides of a single person. Such writing belies the idea that what Graff is doing here is simple.

Reading the book as a parent, I could see how my experience with Absolutely Almost was different from that of a kid reader. Take the character of Calista, for example. She’s a very sympathetic babysitter for Albie who does a lot of good for him, offering support when no one else understands. Yet she’s also just a college kid with a poorly defined sense of when to make the right and wrong choice. Spoiler Alert on the rest of this paragraph. When Albie’s suffering terribly she takes him out of school to go to the zoo and then fails to tell his parents about this executive decision on her part. A couple chapters later Albie’s mom finds out about the outing and Calista’s gone from their lives. The mom concludes that she can’t have a babysitter who lies to her and that is 100% correct. A kid reader is going to be angry with the mom, but parents, teachers, and librarians are going to be aware that this is one of those unpopular but necessary moves a parent has to face all the time. It’s part of being an adult. Sorry, kids. Calista was great, but she was also way too close to being a manic pixie dream babysitter. And trust me when I say you don’t want to have a manic pixie dream babysitter watching your children.

Remember the picture book Leo the Late Bloomer where a little tiger cub is no good at anything and then one day, somewhat magically, he’s good at EVERYTHING? Absolutely Almost is the anti-Leo the Late Bloomer. In a sense, the point of Graff’s novel is that oftentimes kindness outweighs intelligence. I remember a friend of mine in college once commenting that he would much rather that people be kind than witty. At the time this struck me as an incredible idea. I’d always gravitated towards people with a quick wit, so the idea of preferring kindness seemed revolutionary. I’m older now, but the idea hasn’t gone away. Nor is it unique to adulthood. Albie’s journey doesn’t reach some neat and tidy little conclusion by this story’s end, but it does reach a satisfying finish. Life is not going to be easy for Albie, but thanks to the lessons learned here, you’re confident that he’s gonna make it through. Let’s hope other average kids out there at least take heart from that. A hard book to write. An easy book to read.

For ages 9-12
41 reviews1 follower
July 14, 2014
Spoiler Alert: There are spoilers in this review.

Albie is a fifth grade boy with academic and social problems. He is almost good at many things, but not quite good enough. His new babysitter, Calista, helps Ablie discover the things in life that make him happy and that he is good at.

I always hate it when everyone else loves a book, and I don't! Some of the problem with Absolutely Almost is that I look at literature through the lens of sixth graders because that is the grade I teach. I think this book is way too young for my students, but would be better for third, fourth, and possibly fifth grades.

The parents in this book really bothered me! They were horrible. They were not in touch with their son at all. He never confided in them when he was bullied, they did not understand his academic needs, did not help him with his homework, did not understand that he was a social outcast......

Another problem for me was Albie. He seemed extremely immature, and not very believable as a fifth grader....more like he was going into third or fourth grade instead of fifth. That is another issue I have with the book.

At one point, Albie is evaluated for reading disabilities. He seemed so delayed to me in so many ways that I thought it was unrealistic that he ended up not being diagnosed with some type of disability. I actually thought he seemed to be somewhere on the spectrum with regard to his inability to figure out social cues and extreme lack of social awareness for his age. The notes he leaves for his friend Betsy about how to be cool are one example of how out of touch Albie is.

The firing of the babysitter also really upset me and spoke to the disconnect between the mother and Albie. Calista was the only adult who understood Albie and tried to help him, but was fired by the mother.

Too bad for me, the book fell pretty flat!!!
Profile Image for Donalyn.
Author 9 books5,944 followers
June 12, 2014
Honest and funny, Lisa Graff's newest book had me cheering for the main character, Albie, by the first chapter. Struggling at school, teased by bullies, pressured by his parents, Albie has a lot going on in his life, and how he handles it all makes him all the more endearing. By the end, my husband and I (we read it during a road trip), were clamoring for Team Albie t-shirts. A lot of kids (and their parents, teachers, and librarians) are going to love this one.
Profile Image for Kristen.
1,147 reviews65 followers
July 2, 2014
One day at work, I overheard a girl describing a book she couldn't wait to read to her mother: "Mom, I can't wait to read the next book! The last book ended on such a hangover!" She meant cliffhanger, her mother corrected her, we all giggled, and it was one of the many cute stories I see in a day being a children's librarian. But, I have to say, after staying up way too late to finish this book, sobbing uncontrollably at the end of it, and then being unable to sleep because I kept rolling it around in my mind--that girl was on to something. There totally is such a thing as a book hangover, and I now have it from reading this book.

I liked the first book I read by Lisa Graff, A Tangle of Knots, but I wouldn't have believed after reading that book that the next book I read by her would have such an emotional impact on me. But I just loved Albie--he was such a sweet, thoughtful boy. And I loved the fact that this book highlighted someone who tries really, really hard, but doesn't necessarily have everything (or anything!) come easily to him. And I liked that his parents were very real, very flawed people. I'm still not sure I've forgiven either of them for things they did in the book, but Albie did, which is the most important thing. I would actually go so far as to say all parents should read this book--it has such great insights into what it is to be a child who clearly knows he is not living up to expectations but really, really wants to. I just can't wait to give this book to kids at the library and see what they think of it.
Profile Image for Anmiryam.
787 reviews137 followers
June 26, 2014
I have to say this book broke my heart and put it back together. I'm sure it's a great book for kids, but it has wisdom to spare for adults, especially for parents who are still learning how to parent the children they have, rather than the children they wish they had. I have just passed it along to my 19-yo to see if she finds the appeal transcends the middle-grade and middle-aged demographics.
Profile Image for Fahime.
329 reviews228 followers
September 21, 2018
به معنی واقعی کلمه، محشر بود.
یعنی فقط می‌خوام البی رو محکم بغل کنم و مواظب باشم براش اتفاقی نیفته. چقدر این پسر شیرین و دوست داشتنیه.

پ.ن۱: چقدر کتابای لیزا گراف فرق دارن با هم. باورم نمی‌شه همین نویسنده‌ کلاف پرگره و چتر تابستان رو هم نوشته.

پ.ن۲: گوگل این کتاب رو به عنوان یک کتاب مناسب برای "میدل اسکولرها" معرفی کرده! ولی من دوستش دارم، و توصیه می‌کنم شما هم بخونیدش و دوستش داشته باشید.
Profile Image for Kate.
851 reviews35 followers
February 25, 2015
Awwwww, this was achingly sweet and difficult at the same time. A good reminder for parents that while your kid is extraordinary in many ways just being OK in some aspects of life is fine too.
Profile Image for Barb Middleton.
1,752 reviews126 followers
December 10, 2014
As a kid I would pretend I was a great athlete or genius. My dad is a genius. Really. He's been tested and his IQ is in the 140s. Of course I can't remember the exact number. I am not a genius. I am average. I didn't go to Harvard like dad. I wasn't a straight A student like dad. I didn't get high scores on college entrance exams. I was plain ole boring ...average. It took me a long time to be okay with that. As a kid, I would deal with it by reading books and vicariously become a superhero through the eyes of the characters. Add in some red-hot action and I was having a yippee-ki-yay time. I remember at times thinking I needed to try harder. Focus more. Be more competitive. I'd chew my nails to nubs trying to sit still and go overboard trying to be the best (which I never was). Albie is a unique character in this book because he isn't just average in school, he's below average. He hopes that it is a disability, but it isn't. He's just not good at subjects in school. He's not too bright at figuring out other people or situations, but he is good-hearted and kind which is where his true powers lie. He doesn't know it but he's the kind of hero that is hard to come by. Lisa Graff pulls off something unique here, a hero of great character but lacking smarts. Check out this book that is bursting with discussions and would make a great read aloud with its short chapters and beautiful writing.

Fifth grader Albie has been kicked out of private school for failing in subjects and is going to a public school. His parents have hired a college-aged nanny, Calista, to take him to school and help with his homework. Albie doesn't really get it that he was kicked out of school for poor performance in the beginning. He realizes it later when he feels like his world is falling apart. He struggles to fit in at school and make friends and his parents give him a tough time for not being good in school. The nanny helps him deal with all these issues, but she's a kid herself. She does a kind thing for Albie, but it is also irresponsible and the fallout leaves many unhappy.

Albie is biracial. His mom is Korean and his dad's ethnicity isn't given. While Albie doesn't explore what this means, the author draws on some Korean customs that add to the flavor of the setting. When Albie brings kimchi to lunch and doesn't take it out, I laughed. This spicy Korean dish is a staple in their diet and its distinct odor would definitely draw unwanted attention to Albie from the bully, Darren. While most of the Asian backdrop is spot on, I did wonder about Albie's Korean grandfather giving up on Albie. It didn't jive with the Asian parents I've interacted with at our school. They'd hire more tutors and tell Albie to work harder. They wouldn't give up. Of course Albie's mom explained that Gramps was a grump. He's obviously an exception and the reader isn't privy to why he acts this way.

Albie's parents desperately want him to do better in school. Dad tries to shame Albie into improving his spelling scores, while mom does it with his reading log. Shaming never motivates kids but so many adults resort to it because they don't know differently. Constructive criticism that focuses on progress is something that is not easy to do if you've never been exposed to it. The dad says that only an A is acceptable and the mom wants him to read "Johnny Tremain" over "Captain Underpants." As a librarian I see adults taking away children's reading choices all the time. Usually they are trying to make them better readers and push them. Unfortunately, it has the opposite effect on most children by turning them off to reading completely. It is not easy nurturing positive reading habits and sometimes adults have to interfere. But if the goal is to make reading a part of a child's life, then adults need to nurture the joy of reading and that starts with helping them find books that interest them. It works best for me if I have a stack of eight or more books that I quickly summarize for the kid then let them choose the one that grabs their interest.

At times the parents are too concerned with how Albie makes them look versus looking at what is best for Albie. Oftentimes parents project too much of themselves onto their children and do not let them be themselves. Albie's mom wants him to run for a school office because she was treasurer in school. When Albie says he isn't interested she doesn't want to hear it. Being a parent isn't easy. Sometimes kids need to be encouraged. Other times parents go overboard. Albie has loving parents that not only misstep, but give good advice as well. Albie's mother is crushed when she finds out he doesn't have a disability. After this climax, she seems to except Albie's academic shortcomings and not push him so much. When Albie's dad buys him the same birthday present (I've done that to my dad before), Albie is so disgusted he tosses the plane out his 8 story bedroom window. When Albie's dad teaches him how to make the family recipe of delicious grilled cheese sandwiches, he tells Albie that he won't have problems getting what he wants in life, but figuring out what he wants. Albie appreciates the support. When Albie comforts his mom and Calista he shows how deep his kindness runs. He is forgiving and gentle. Parents, nannies, teachers are trying to do the best they can for Albie and sometimes they shine and sometimes they fall short. This message that adults make mistakes just like kids adds depth and authenticity to the character development.

Friendships can be tricky like parenting. Albie's best friend is Erlan who goes to Albie's previous school. The two remain friends and Erlan likes that Albie always treats him "normal." Albie gets bullied at his new school by Darren. He makes friends with Betsy, a girl who stutters, and Albie is kind to her when others pick on her. When Darren thinks Albie is going to be on television because of Erlan's family being in a reality show, he makes friends with him. The nanny, Calista, tries to warn Albie to be careful of Darren's motivations. She doubts Darren's sincerity at being a friend, but Albie is too kind to understand that Darren might want something in return. Darren convinces Albie not to be friends with Betsy because it isn't "cool." Albie finds out the hard way that friendships are not based on a set of rules, but on acceptance. He deals with Darren's meanness by deciding what words hurt and how to smooth out their edges. Albie stays true to Erlan as a friend, but he blows it with Betsy. He makes amends and learns from it, just like the adults.

Calista is caring and kind, but misguided in her good intentions. Like everyone else in this story, she makes mistakes too. When she acts irresponsibly by lying to Albie's parents even though her intentions were good, any adult with a kid is going to understand Albie's mother's actions. But kids are going to think his mother was horribly unfair. What they don't know is how the situation could have been easily handled with a phone call. A nanny's top priority is to ensure the safety and trust of the parents. If that is violated, then they have shown they are not up to handling the responsibility of taking care of a younger child. Albie's mom didn't really have a choice.

The theme of accepting yourself is a powerful one. Albie is a great kid that learns his worth. He's "absolutely almost" certain of it. He's okay with who he is. Are you?

511 reviews211 followers
November 17, 2014
You want to know how much I liked this book? I liked it thiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiis much.

"Some people aren't good at anything. Some people just really like donuts."

Lisa Graff always writes the best books ever. And they almost always fall into my lap just when I need them the most. She is my re-bound author but also so much more because the more you read her book, the better you like it, even if the wonder of first-time read her stories have isn't there. There's the wonder of revising an old, gold friend.

This was my first time reading Absolutely Almost, but I'm most certain it'll not be the last.

I like MG books as much as the next reader, maybe a bit more, but there are few authors I rrrrreally trust to make me believe in my characters without going the way of dark and depressing, at the end of whose destiny shine bright therapies I'm never getting to (I mean The Riverman anyone? REALLY MR STARMER???) Besides, Lisa Graff I can only think of Rebecca Stead (never an improper moment to mention that I love When You Reach Me more than you love your gallbladder).

But Absolutely Almost. Albie is not smart or particularly funny. His mum and dad aren't bad, but they're just trying to figure out how to be the best mum and dad, and sometimes they fail. He is definitely not good at math. And I like math. His name is Albin, not Albert after Einstein.

He's sad almost all the time. And I'm not selling this book right.

So basically before I ruin any slight possibility I had of convincing you, know this: this book is absolutely almost perfect, and while that may not be as good as perfect, I bet it's better than what you're doing now, which is reading this craptastic review. You really need to do something better with you life, people, and reading my reviews ain't it.

It's funny, sad, very very sad, thankfully no one dies, happy sometimes, and great. It is wholesome in a way that no meal or baseball ever could be. And it is the smartest book I've read in a long while even if it's the story of a not-so-smart kid and how life can be hard if you're a not-so-smart kid. It asks just the right questions.

"What do people do on sad days?"

And it knows the right sort of things.

"Everyone deserves a sad day once in a while," Calista told me. "Sometimes things are too big for cheering up. Sometimes the best way to make things better is just to let yourself be sad for a little bit."

Nice people didn't make other people yell-whisper instead of pee.

I love Lisa Graff creates these characters, little or grown-up, so starkly and clearly without bothering the reader too much build-up and no one is too nice or bad, even the best persons fall for stupid idiots they don't deserve to deal with, and it's never too little or too much. It's so much like real life but not overtly in a way that reality seems fake. It's the perfect balance of everything without trying or being obvious. I love love love love it.

I'm not even going to cry about where these books were when I was ten; I'm just glad they are here when I need them.

And Betsy said "trick or treat" twice with no stuttering. I heard her.

Absolutely Almost is full of these little things that make me smile a half-smile people do in books and movies; it makes me feel all kind of gooey and yay for a good day in a long while! inside.

Darissa taught us a new handball game called Butt's Up, which none of us were very good at, but we liked playing because it had the word butt in it.

I know you're probably very busy or maybe sad (who isn't?)(if you aren't so much yes) but lemme just extend a tiny hint to you: give this book a go.

Even smart people probably like to get a hint every once in a while.

Now, I won't keep you any longer or I'll fill up the entire tiny book in this review and then ruin your reading experience so bye! here I go back to probably-crappy books and you should think about this one. Later gators!

(Maybe I'll read When You Reach Me again. You should do that, too.)
Profile Image for Clare.
1,460 reviews307 followers
December 15, 2014
A hard-done-by kid who's not very smart gets a new 'not-babysitter' who helps to challenge his low self-esteem. The story has a sweet, positive message, even if the execution is not really engrossing as a story.

We gradually relate more to young Albie, and begin to suffer his disappointments - a disengaged father, a struggling mother, getting expelled from school for not getting good enough grades, struggling with calculations, with spelling and all things educational, and finally finding a wise friend in his new after-school companion.

Albie has things pretty tough, and one gets a little tired of reading about setback after setback. He really struggles with school work, has trouble getting through any book that's not Captain Underpants, and can't even calculate giving a few dollars extra tip. However one constant is his mother's love, even when she makes decisions that are hard on Albie. And through all the downs Albie learns some wise lessons: the fickle nature of 'being cool', what it means to be a good friend, that fame and popularity can be cruel, that good grades take hard work, and that even if you're not perfect, almost is pretty good.

And another constant is that Albie does indeed have a good heart, and his journey teaches him how to let it show. In fact, he never does anything with a bad intention, and learns quickly from his honest mistakes.

There's a lot of binge eating (especially doughnuts), as the new babysitter knows just how to cheer Albie up. I imagine he'd be a pretty pudgy kid. There's also a few 'behind the parents' backs' episodes when Albie needed to skip school for being the subject of some pretty tough bullying that his mother didn't know about. The sitter loses her job over the incident, and one can't help but wish they would have communicated a little better. The day at the zoo was just what Albie needed to move on, but no one but the now-fired sitter seems to understand this. However the sitter was also wise in helping him turn off the TV, listening to his problems, and keeping Albie active when he's moping.

It's a sweet but not lively read for the 8-10 crowd, perhaps especially struggling learners, although they may need some encouragement to persevere.

Profile Image for Fateme H. .
394 reviews73 followers
March 28, 2020
من شارژم تموم شده بود. قرار بود دو ماه بذارم کنار کتاب رو، اما امروز دیدم که دیگه واقعا نمی‌کشم. نمی‌تونستم درس بخونم. یک ساعت تمام خوندم و هیچی نفهمیدم، هیچی. الان فقط می‌دونم که زلزه کانون داره، یه همچین چیزایی.
خلاصه که همون‌طور که نشسته بودم یه گوشه و داشتم به خاطر این اوضاع یه ذره غصه می‌خوردم، مامانم گفت که پاشو برو یه ذره کتاب بخون حالت خوب شه.
منم دوان‌دوان و از خدا خواسته، نشستم به خوندن ایشون.
و خدای من...
چه‌قدر خوشحالم که این کتاب رو برای این فرصت کوتاه استراحتم انتخاب کردم. یه کتاب خیلی خیلی ناز و قشنگ. شخصیتای دوست‌داشتنی، داستان قشنگ و جالب و دارای تعلیق...
آه، کالیستا... چه دختر نازی، چه‌قدر گل. آلبی هم بچه دوست‌داشتنی‌ای بود.
خلاصه که دست مریزاد خانم گراف. این بار هم ناامیدم نکردی.

اولین کتابی بود که از طاقچه خریدم و خوندم. انتظار داشتم خیلی اذیت شم، اما اصلا این‌طور نبود. درسته که موقع خوندن ای‌بوک (درست می‌گم؟)، نمی‌تونی بوی خلسه‌آور کتاب و زبری قشنگ صفحه‌ها زیر انگشتات رو حس کنی، اما اون‌قدرا هم افتضاح نبود. مخصوصا به خاطر این‌که من نمی‌تونم توی کتابام چیزی بنویسم، دلم براشون می‌سوزه، کلا خوشم نمیاد دیگه. اما تونستم قسمتای قشنگ‌تر این کتاب رو با خیال راحت علامت بزنم.
دم طاقچه هم گرم!
Profile Image for Elisabeth.
1,870 reviews24 followers
July 19, 2014
I'm adding Albie to my small collection of characters whom I keep close and wonder about from time to time.
Profile Image for Saeideh.
34 reviews
June 24, 2023
آن دیکته B نشانه خرس چند هفته پیش را برداشتم و چسباندم به در اتاقم، درست زیر نامه مونت فوردم.
می دانستم اگر پدر ببیندش احتمالا چه میگوید.
می گوید B تقریبا مثل A است، اما به درد نمی خورد.
اما یک چیز دیگر را هم میدانستم.
اگر آدم نداند کجا بوده به جایی که میخواهد برود نمی رسد.
و نمی تواند جایی باشد، مگر اینکه یک مدتی تقریبا آنجا مانده باشد.

_داستان درباره یک پسر بچهه به اسم آلبی هست که توی ارتباط برقرار کردن با بقیه و مدرسه و درس خوندن مشکل داره.
Profile Image for Piyali.
898 reviews20 followers
December 17, 2015
This goes to my list of 'one of the most beautiful and sensitive books I have read till date.' I want every child and every grown up to read this book. The book contains a much needed message of loving a child for who s/he is and not for what what s/he has achieved. Math and reading do not come easily to 10 year old Albie so the expensive private school that his parents struggled to get him in kicked him out. Albie goes to a new school where the 'cool' kids call him retard and dummy. It hurts him, but he rolls the word dummy in his head again and again till the word softens around the edges a bit and does not quite hurt him as much anymore. Lisa Graff tells a sensitive story of thoughtful, kind and caring child Albie who almost succeeds in different aspects in life but doesn't quite make it. He, however, learns this important lesson from his math club teacher that in order to move on in life he has to remember 'you can't get where you are going without being where you've been.' Albie, in an introspective and innovative way comes to terms with his triumphs and failures with some help from his babysitter Calista and his mom and dad, who may not understand him always yet they try their best to care for Albie in the best way they can.
I loved reading this book so much.
Profile Image for Ghazaal B..
240 reviews75 followers
June 2, 2018
When reading this book as an adult, or better to say as a "no longer a teenager", you will have a total different understanding.
Very strong. I felt every single character. Every act and react made sense to me. it made me laugh, it made ke cry, it made me pause and start over even a few days later cause I needed to digest the whole thing, And now I'm just sad that I've finnished reading it and the fact that I can't read it again as if I've never read it before.
Profile Image for Xueting.
272 reviews128 followers
July 3, 2015
This is the book I most desperately wish I read a few years ago, but it's still very relevant to me right now. Albie is more real than 98% of the characters I have read in books, from children's to adult's to non-fiction books. So much to write about this, so little idea of where and how to start. Proper review to come!!!
2,795 reviews6 followers
May 3, 2015
Oh, Albie.

Newbery criteria mentions "distinguished" a lot, which I know is not the same as "distinctive," but Graff has created a unique character here in that he is in fact NOT distinctive. He's just kind of stumping along in a below average way. And by the end, he's kind of ok with that (although disappointed to not be diagnosed with a reading disorder, because that would have made his parents feel better).

In a society where the pressure is on to not only keep up but edge out, and in a literary landscape full of precocity and amazing talents, this book stands apart.

It reminded me of an article a friend sent me last week, titled "You Don't Have a Purpose." She said it made her feel relieved - it encourages the reader to find a career or life they love, but tells them to stop wasting energy looking for a Purpose with a capital P. Kind of like how Donut Man doesn't HAVE to have superpowers. He can just be a nice guy who likes donuts. Be nice. Choose kind. That's enough.
Profile Image for Sara MostaghaC.
191 reviews70 followers
May 6, 2019
دلم می خواهد این کتاب را به کلی از کسانی که می خواهند بچه دار شوند و بچه دارند، بدهم بخوانند و تا یک جای خوبی از داستان هم می خواستم پدر و مادر آلبی رو بکشم! این قدر که بلد نبودند. تا آن جا که خود مادرش اعتراف کرد بلد نیست ولی تمام سعی ش را می کند.
قبلا هیچ وقت فکر نکردم که مادر بودن چیزی است که باید برایش سعی کنی مثل ریاضی یا دیکته. مادر بودن فقط چیزی بود که آدم بود.

ولی آخر داستان را خیلی تند جمع کرده بود نویسنده. انگار یهویی مادر و پدرش بعد سال ها فهمیدند چه باید بکنند!
و بهترین شخصیت هم آن آقای معلم انجمن ریاضی که چون ریاضی ش خوب نبود تصمیم گرفته بود اگر روزی ریاضی ش خوب شد، به کسانی که مثل خودش بودند کمک کند و یک ذره دنیا را به جای بهتری برای زندگی تبدیل کند.
و از بهترین جملات کتاب این که
بعضی آدم ها تو هیچی خیلی عالی نیستند. بعضی آدم ها فقط خیلی دونات دوست دارند.
Profile Image for Nina.
123 reviews53 followers
June 24, 2019
so you mean we have this boy who is in fifth grade and can't lean the dictation of the word literature and can't understand anything about communicating and acts like a 4-year-old, and he has totally NO PROBLEM?
every single thing he did was a sign of autism or a least Asperger but nobody seemed no notice it.
and ok, we have this boy who really loves the girl that takes care of him, and at one point she just vanishes and the boy's like where is she? Oh, you fired her? but mommmm.... oh, you're trying to be a good mother? ok...I love you mom
none of the characters made sense, none of them, except maybe the girl that took care of him.
don't read it, if you care about your time
Profile Image for Michelle Simpson.
622 reviews28 followers
July 23, 2014
This is a wonderful book. The characters were ordinary people, like those we meet every day, and I felt instantly connected. I so wanted Albie to succeed, to win, to get revenge, etc., but he just kept chugging along... Readers will like him and root for him throughout the story!

The book reminded me a little bit of Calli Be Gold, in that the adults in the story didn't always have realistic & even fair expectations for the child. Sometimes the child doesn't seem to have a voice when with his/her parents. How often do parents place their own goals on a child, who might not particularly have the same goals & interests?

This will be a great read aloud & book club book!
Profile Image for Fatemeh.
126 reviews20 followers
September 3, 2018
از سادگیِ آلبی خوشم می‌اومد. در واقع می‌��ه گفت متن کتاب، درد دل‌های من راجع به مدرسه بود. اینکه همش تلاش کنی کول به نظر برسی و خودت رو توی یه اکیپ جا بدی و دوست صمیمی‌ت چقدر به فکرته و توقعات و انتظارات والدین چیه و یه معلم خوب چقدر می‌تونه دلگرمی بده به آدم و خیلی چیزهای دیگه.
خیلی از دیالوگ‌ها، لبخند روی لبم آورد. دغدغه‌های یه بچه‌ی دبستانی رو به زبان ساده، بیان کرده.
دوستش داشتم.
Profile Image for Susan  Dunn.
1,888 reviews
July 14, 2014
I loved this book! Albie is going to be starting 5th grade at a new school. He isn't quite sure why he's being transferred, but it has something to do with a letter from his old school that really upset his parents. Albie has always struggled in school. He's a kind, gentle soul - the kind of kid who, when he gets to be captain of the basketball team picks the worst play first because he feels bad that she's always picked last. But being a nice kid isn't getting Albie anywhere with his peers, or improving his grades.... At his new school he once again struggles to fit in, and ends up being constantly teased by one of the popular kids. He doesn't tell his parents because they're so busy with work that they don't pay much attention to him (except for when he disappoints them by reading baby books or not getting 100% on his spelling test). Luckily there's Calista - the new babysitter his parents have hired to watch him after school until they get home from work. Calista is a free spirit - and she gets Albie like no adult ever has. Calista makes things better for a while, but when is Albie going to learn to stand up for himself? Short chapters and lots of white space make this book appropriate for both good and struggling readers in grades 4-6. Pair this one with R.J. Palacio's WONDER.
Profile Image for Alison.
196 reviews23 followers
January 7, 2015
I loved this - it's another story that has you loving and rooting for the main character from the first few pages. This has the emotional power of Wonder, Mockingbird and Out of my mind. I would love to offer my students the audiobook as well as the print copy as it would be wonderful read aloud with the right voice. As I was listening I could hears the voices from Augie and family from the Wonder audio in my head - that might just be my need to hear an American accent with this one!
Profile Image for Sarah.
1,029 reviews
August 28, 2016
Lisa Graff is definitely one of my favorite new (to me) middle grade novelists. I really liked her characters and the honesty with which they were portrayed. I could see trouble coming a mile away in the instances there was trouble, and it was so painful when Albie could not. Similar to The Thing About Georgie, there was the clear cut nasty name calling bully, and the individualistic caring friends. I felt vaguely unsatisfied at the end, but that felt realistic, like life.
Profile Image for Ryan Johnston.
9 reviews2 followers
February 26, 2018
I liked the book a lot, I recommend it. It is about a kid named Albie who is not really good at anything, School, sports, art, nothing. I can relate because I am not good at school or art! It stinks not being good at anything. His new babysitter helps him figure out the things he is good at and being ok with the things he is not. I was rooting for him.
Profile Image for Michelle Glatt.
622 reviews46 followers
January 30, 2018
Top notch perspective in this book--and I can say that I haven't ever read a book about a child with learning challenges that is quite like this one. I can definitely think of a number of students who would be inspired to understanding and kindness by this novel.
Profile Image for Benji Martin.
863 reviews61 followers
August 20, 2014
It's been a while since a book broke me down emotionally like this one did at the end. My mission for the day is to get Absolutely Almost into a kid's hands.
Profile Image for Alex  Baugh.
1,954 reviews109 followers
December 1, 2014
When my Kiddo was around 8, we were at the beach, sharing a vacation house with family from Washington DC. Her older cousin Mary was a gymnast with a few nice wins under her belt and her cousin Daniel was quite a good artist. One day, after watching Mary do gymnastics all over the house, the beach and the street, and after watching Daniel sit with his ("no, I don't share them") art supplies, she turned to me and, with a crestfallen face, asked why she didn't have a talent, too. "Talented" was a word she heard a lot that summer, but not about her.

I thought about that summer the minute I started reading Absolutely Almost. There are so many real kids as well as protagonists out there that are smart, clever, sassy, snarky, funny, talented. They are admired and bragged about ad nauseam, and the ones who do not fit into these attributes, usually get the job of taken-for-granted best friend, crowd follower, narcissistic extension of parents, or the school/street bully. But now, there is ten year-old Albie, half-Korean, half-Swiss, and absolutely almost good at anything.

Albie has just be kicked out of the private Manhattan prep school he attended with his best friend Erlan for poor academic performance. Now, he's on his way to PS 183. He won't be seeing Erlan much any more and not just because of the new school, but because Erlan's family is going to be the subject of a new reality TV show. And Albie's mom has just hired a babysitter/tutor for him, Calista, an art student in college. Oh yes, and his mom has taken away his newest copy of Captain Underpants, the one book her very reluctant reader son likes, and replaced it with Johnny Tremain, the book SHE liked at his age.

All this sounds like it would spell disaster for him, but things absolutely almost don't turn out so badly for Albie. For one thing, Calista is kind of a lossey-goosey companion, who doesn't mind changing his mom's plans and who really gets Albie. So, right off the bat, instead of going to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, she lets Albie show the new-to-New York Calista the ropes for getting around the city and all kinds of fun stuff to do - both areas of expertise for him. Naturally, it doesn''t take long for a bond to form between them.

At school, Albie's new teacher, Mrs. Rouse, signs him up for Math Club. It is really a class for students struggling with math run by Mr. Clifton, but no one ever lets on that that is the case, much to their credit. Albie is also tested to see if he is dyslexic, but that turns out to not be the case. And Albie even makes a new friend at school. Betsy doesn't speak often because of a severe stutter, but she does give Albie a big smile and she shares her gummy bears with him at lunch. And, of course, he meets the class bully, Darren Anderson.

Albie's change in circumstances after being kicked out of prep school means that each of the newcomers in his life, including Hugo at the bodega where he and Calista stop into every day to buy Albie a donut, will enrich Albie's life in their own different way and contribute to Albie's self-acceptance.

Absolutely Almost is narrated by Albie, which gives the reader insight into his thought processes and what a privilege that is. As Albie tells his story, you realize what an astute observer he is, noticing things around him that others don't even see. Which also makes you think that perhaps his problem is not intelligence, but focus, or rather, not focusing on the main thing, but on what is surrounding it. I think Albie has something to learn and to teach us about the uniqueness of our kids. Sometimes, no matter what, they are just not going to fit into a preconceived idea about who they are or should be.

There are lots of Albie's in classes all over the country. They are fun, lovable, kind kids, just like he is. It used to be that these kids would fall through the cracks and no one would notice it or them. Thanks to Absolutely Almost, and Lisa Graff willingness to write about book about an average hero, maybe we will start noticing them more. You never know how a child can bloom until you really see and accept them for who they really are.

This is a great middle grade novel that kids and parents might really benefit from reading aloud together.

There is a wonderful reading guide available for Absolutely Almost, which you can find HERE

This book is recommended for readers age 9+
This book was borrowed from the NYPL

This review was originally posted at Randomly Reading
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