These reviews have been copied from the New York Public Library’s Website – http://www.nypl.org
School Library Journal
SLJ Reviews 2009 June
Gr 9 Up—Daniel “Sprout” Bradford, 16, does a lot of his thinking out loud, speaking directly to readers in a wisecracking voice about the differences between Long Island, where he used to live, and Kansas, where he and his dad live now. He also shares his thoughts about secrets, lies, friendship, and love. He’d be the first to tell you that he’s gay and his hair is dyed green. With encouragement from his hard-drinking English teacher (and benign neglect from his hard-drinking father), the teen navigates the hallways of “uptight” Buhler High with Ruthie, Ian, and Ty, and prepares for an essay contest in Topeka. His advanced vocabulary and esoteric references to Samson, fucate objects, Guns & Ammo, the Borg cube, and a double-entendre on Cumbria will intrigue readers who enjoyed Lemony Snicket’s built-in definitions in their younger years. Sprout’s wiseacre voice is often very funny and tinged with irony. The flawed adults seem a little unrealistic. The physical scenes are not overly detailed, though the teen’s word choices can be a little crude. He will sometimes interrupt a passage that might be getting a little intimate by instructing readers to “Get your mind out of the gutter,” or noting, “I’m not going to tell you what we did exactly, but there were a lot of giggles and a couple of ouches.” At heart, this is the story of a boy looking for love, all the while knowing that the storybook “happily ever after” isn’t going to apply to him.—Maggie Knapp, Trinity Valley School, Fort Worth, TX
[Page 134]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
Booklist Reviews 2009 May #2
“Sixteen-year-old Daniel “Sprout” Bradford has been chosen to enter the statewide Kansas essay contest, and as his first-person narrative kicks off, it seems like he is an obvious choice. He is bright and incisive, and he toys with tense and vocabulary with confident meta-awareness. On the other hand, he hardly fits the typical scholarship-winner profile: he has bright green hair, lives with his drunk father in a trailer home adorned with upside-down tree stumps, and is in turmoil over how public he wants to be about his homosexuality. There is his best friend, there is his crush, there is his first love, and rather than addressing these characters simultaneously, Peck alternates their primacy in a way that is both absorbing and jarring. But the prose is as intelligent and playful as Sprout himself; even the name “Sprout” is a clue to Peck’s pervading theme. The lengthy, leisurely chapters allow readers to live through the characters rather than view them as mere plot pushers, and the result is a story rarely content to move in conventional directions.” Copyright 2009 Booklist Reviews.
The Horn Book
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2009 Fall
Daniel “Sprout” Bradford’s class assignment, “Quit Whining! or, Holden Caulfield Could Learn a Few Things from Huck Finn,” catches the eye of a state essay-contest coach. Working with no-nonsense Mrs. Miller forces Sprout to explore his secrets–like being gay. Structurally effective, caustically entertaining, unpreachy, and thought-provoking, the story is a satisfying look at the truths one young man unearths about himself. Copyright 2009 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2009 #4
Following his mother’s death, narrator Daniel “Sprout” Bradford was uprooted from civilization (a.k.a. Long Island); his father rented a U-Haul and just started driving. Now, four years later, Dad is a functioning alcoholic and Sprout’s carefully cultivated anti-small-town-Kansas persona is on brilliant display, starting with a shock of dyed-green hair. When his paper “Quit Whining! or, Holden Caulfield Could Learn a Few Things from Huck Finn” catches the eye of Mrs. Miller, a coach for the state essay contest, Sprout’s days of hiding in plain sight (green hair notwithstanding) are over. Working with the no-nonsense teacher forces him to explore secrets he’s been keeping — like being gay. A narrator with a flair for the dramatic, Sprout is very deliberate about releasing information: “Betcha didn’t see that coming, did ya? Neither did Mrs. Miller.” After he cops to liking guys, the story shifts focus to his relationships with them, including emotionally volatile Ty and jock Ian. Sprout’s description of events culminates in a painful betrayal. The end of the book finds him at the state essay contest, pencil poised for some much-needed self-examination (“I have a secret. And everyone knows it but me”). Structurally effective, caustically entertaining, unpreachy, and thought-provoking, Sprout is a satisfying look at the truths one young man unearths about himself. Copyright 2009 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.