What a wonderful book. There are stock elements here – a kid who is an outsider at school (and attracts another outsider), parents missing (one literally, one more spiritually), a good teacher and a bad teacher – but Sachar makes it come across as fresh. I knew I was invested when I really choked up during the scene at Mitchell Beach. (I don’t want to spoil anything.) Great to hand to a 3rd grader or to read aloud together.