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Cover image for Better than weird
Better than weird

Publication Information:
Victoria, BC : Orca Book Publishers, c2011.
Physical Description:
218 p. ; 19 cm.
General Note:
"A stand-alone sequel to The mealworm diaries"--Cover p. [4].
Aaron sounds like a hyena when he laughs, and he can't sit still, but he has managed to make a couple of friends--and at least one enemy. Now he is anxiously awaiting the arrival of his father, whom he hasn't seen in eight years. Will his dad leave again because he thinks Aaron is too weird? Will the school bully beat him up? And will his dad ever be proud of him?


Call Number
J Kerz, A.
J Kerz, A.

On Order



In this stand-alone sequel to The Mealworm Diaries , Aaron is anxiously waiting for his father to return for the first time since Aaron's mother's death eight years earlier. Aaron works hard with a counselor at school, but he still has problems getting along with and understanding other kids, and he's worried that his dad will think he's weird. As well as having to confront Tufan, the class bully, Aaron must find ways to cope with the fact that his dad now has a pregnant wife and his beloved Gran needs surgery. In the end, his greatest strength is not his intelligence or his sense of humor, but the openness and warmth of his heart.

Reviews 3

School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-7-In this stand-alone sequel to The Mealworm Diaries (Orca, 2009), Kerz focuses on Aaron, one of the supporting characters from that book. Dubbed "Cantwait" by his sixth-grade classmates for his impulsive and immature behavior, Aaron struggles to make sense of his current social interactions with his peers. After an incident with the morning announcements draws the attention of the class bully, he attempts to focus on his father's imminent return after an eight-year absence. He creates lengthy lists of activities and hobbies that his dad will teach him, even after his custodial grandmother cautions him to manage his expectations. In the end, his father's arrival, coupled with his continued difficulties at school, leaves Aaron with more questions than answers. Kerz succeeds beautifully at crafting a convincing narrative centered on the life of a 12-year-old boy who cannot control his behavior. Not unlike the character of Jason in Nora Raleigh Baskin's Anything but Typical (S & S, 2009), Aaron's voice is convincing as a child desperate to understand his surroundings. Supporting characters, from Aaron's father to his classmates, are also realistically portrayed.-Colleen S. Banick, Tomlinson Middle School, Fairfield, CT (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

Nicknamed "Cantwait" by his classmates for his impulsive behavior, awkward sixth-grader Aaron impatiently waits for several things. His father, gone for eight years, is returning with a surprise. Class bully Tufan threatens retribution. The grandmother who has raised him goes for cancer surgery. 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. His loving Gran keeps after him, gently but steadily; the school counselor, Karen, works with him on "reading faces"; and a Big Brother has given him helpful tips.Aaron's friendship with classmate Jeremy, described from Jeremy's point of view in The Mealworm Diaries (2009), is sorely tested. Veteran storyteller Kerz moves the third-person narration along quickly, making it jump from scene to scene like Aaron's attention. Realistically, not every teacher is patient with this challenging boy. His father doesn't live up to all his expectations, nor he, his father's.But the surprise turns out to be a positive one; his new, pregnant stepmother welcomes him sympathetically. The details of school life are believable and familiar, and the ending leaves Aaron and readers waiting for a hopeful outcomethe day when he and Gran can move to join his father and new family in Dawson. This companion book stands alone but will surely send readers back to read the first. (Fiction. 9-12)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

Yet another 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. Aaron's incentives include his father's impending return to his life and fear of a class bully named Tufan. Still, spiraling excitability leads the boy, who lives with his grandmother, to be caught up in accidents leading to a broken arm as well as a classroom debacle featuring an overturned fish tank. Losing his sometimes-friend Jeremy over the latter incident seems a harbinger of disappointment to come with his runaway dad, but 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.--Cruze, Karen Copyright 2010 Booklist