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Remember Dippy

Middle Grade Mafioso

What I liked:

I pretty much say it about all the books I like: VOICE. By this I mean that the voice (the outlook, the word choices) of the main character, Johnny, is spot on. Johnny would much rather hang with his friends, Mo and Reed, than with his cousin Remember ("Yes, that's right, his name is Remember--straight out of some New Age baby-naming book.") Remember (or Mem, as Johnny calls him) is on the autistic spectrum and does indeed have several habits that would exasperate a neurotypical teen. Mem repeats parts of what others say; he throws tantrums when he feels he can't control what's happening in the world around him. But he is also sweet. Therefore, while Johnny views his neighbor, Mr. Boots, as a "cranky old man," Mem calls him his best friend. Mem also doesn't get rattled by the boy whom Johnny can't stand, Dirk Dempster. In the end, it's Mem who teaches Johnny acceptance.

Cast of Characters: There's actually a lot going on in this novel. Johnny's Aunt Collette, who is Mem's mom, and with whom Johnny's spending the summer, has a suitor. Niko, who owns the pizza parlor in town, has lost the engagement ring he wanted to present his girlfriend. There's a girl, Leesha, visiting from Chicago who actually likes it in Hull and doesn't want to return home. (Mem, of course, befriends her.) Dirk Dempster has a rotten home life, but he and Johnny come to an uneasy truce. There are rescue ferrets. And Johnny and his pals end up helping (and growing to appreciate) Mr. Boots after he falls and breaks a leg.

Humor: Yup, there's a lot to laugh about. Middle school boys playing mini golf with... hard boiled eggs?! "So that's how we invented a new sport called Egg Whack. Mo actually wanted to call it Egg Roll, but Reed and I vetoed it on the grounds that it sounded like Chinese take-out." There are haircut disasters: "Who was this alien with the spikes and poufs staring back at me...? I looked like a rock star on a bad hair day, only worse."
But I think my favorite line is near the end, when the kids have pulled off something major and Johnny says "For a terrifying moment, I thought we were going to have a group hug. Leesha put both arms out, and Mem started leaning in--but I was saved by the bell. The doorbell, that is." See what I mean about voice?!

In conclusion, REMEMBER DIPPY doesn't have a huge promotional budget. It's being published by a small press (more on that later). But it was definitely one of the more endearing novels I've read in a while, and I would encourage you to seek it out. Middle Graders will find the attitudes and experiences of the novel ring very true to life.
- May 13, 2013  Visit Website

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