Review of All the Small Wonderful Things

All the Small Wonderful Things All the Small Wonderful Things
by Kate Foster
Intermediate, Middle School    Candlewick    240 pp.
10/23    9781536225808    $17.99
e-book ed.  9781536234190    $17.99

Eleven-year-old Alex is in grade six and lives on the Gold Coast of Australia. He is autistic and feels he needs a strategy for making friends: be good enough at his favorite computer game, OrbsWorld; run faster and contribute to the track relays coming up; or win a trophy at the upcoming PAWS dog show. Foster’s effective first-person narrative gives readers insight into how the protagonist’s mind works, allowing them to observe the world the way he does (e.g., his difficulty with noise and crowds and with reading people’s facial expressions). The tension of the story rides on the dog show, not only how Alex’s dog, Kevin, will do, but also how Alex will cope with the crowds and excitement. By the novel’s end, he realizes that not only has he learned how to be a friend, but he’s also had a friend all along. It is a testament to Foster’s craft in character development that readers will care so much about the earnest, good-hearted Alex and that the final, tear-jerking scene is such a surprise.

From the November/December 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Dean Schneider

Dean Schneider teaches eighth grade English at the Ensworth School in Nashville, Tennessee.

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