I love Joan Bauer. I liked her books from way back, but after hearing her speak just about a year ago, I love her even more. She is vibrant, vivacious, purposeful and she’s a good storyteller, apparently coming from a family of storytellers. So, when I saw a random copy of Stand Tall, I figured it was worth reading…and I was right.
Twelve-year-old Tree has a complicated life. He’s the tallest seventh grader at Eleanor Roosevelt Middle School, weighing in at 6′ 7″ (that equates to a size 16 shoe, if you’re intersted). He’s not good at sports, even though everyone thinks a 6′ 7″ kid is a born athlete. His parents are recently divorced and they have shared custody so he (and the school) needs a color coded schedule to know where he’s residing on any given day. And his Vietnam Vet grandfather just got his leg amputated below the knee. So, things aren’t easy.
While teens may not relate to everything in Stand Tall, there’s enough to gain and keep their attention. As Susan often reminds me, Joan Bauer is one of only a handful of authors whose books are good for middle grades. There’s no violence, no cursing, no inappropriate behavior. What Ms. Bauer does produce is a good story line that combines obstacles with hope, a daunting-looking future offset by strong role model characters. All this with humor and great characters. Stand Tall is no slouch of a book. OK, you can groan now.