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Friday, December 18, 2020

MG Debut Warm and Uplifting

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Because of his autism, Hank Hudson feels things—especially sadness—very keenly.  His hyper sensitivity has gotten him into plenty of trouble already, which is why he's hesitant to join the new girl's campaign to free her neighbor's dog.  It's not that he doesn't care about Booler's plight.  He does.  The 2-year-old pit bull, who's constantly tethered to a too-short chain, is pitiable.  But Hank has enough problems without Maisie Huang bossing him around and getting him mixed up in some ill-planned rescue mission.

When Maisie makes him an offer he can't refuse, Hank becomes her reluctant wing man in a covert operation to help Booler escape his confinement.  It's not long before Maisie's enthusiasm overtakes her good sense (again) and the kids are caught up in a plan that's quickly spiraling out of control.  Hank needs order to keep his world on an even keel.  The more chaotic Maisie's escapade becomes, the more anxious he gets.  When push really comes to shove, can he keep it together long enough to fulfill the mission?  Can they give the poor pooch the freedom they so desperately think he needs?  What if the plan to free Booler isn't really about the dog at all—what if it's the two misfits looking for belonging who are really the ones in need of rescue? 

There are so many things to love about We Could Be Heroes, a debut middle-grade novel by Margaret Finnegan.  Not only is it warm and funny, but its depictions of autism are some of the clearest, most helpful explanations of the disorder that I've ever come across.  Hank's feelings and actions seem very authentic, which probably has a lot to do with the fact that Finnegan has an autistic daughter who helped her make them so.  Both he and Maisie are wonderful characters, who are interesting, humorous, and relatable.  Their actions are consistent with their ages, which makes them feel like real kids.  In addition to likable story people (and canine), the book also features a compelling plot and engaging prose.  Finnegan uses these elements to subtly teach valuable lessons about how to be a real friend, accepting people in spite of their differences, reserving judgement, and owning up to and learning from one's mistakes.  Overall, We Could Be Heroes is simply a great children's book.  I loved it.

(Readalikes:  Um, I can't think of anything.  You?)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for scary situations

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find


  1. Love the sound of this one! :D

  2. I'm so out of touch with books aimed at this grade-level now that my grandkids are all well passed those years, that I kind of forgot about it. Oddly, MG books these days appear to be more like what YA was a few decades ago. Kids these days seem to be "wiser" and more informed about the real world these days than they were back then. I guess that's a good thing. This book really sounds good, something perfect for that age group.

  3. I love that the author's daughter used her own sense of self and experiences to make this book authentic.


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