I just finished reading Absolutely Almost. And. It. Was. Good. This is a must-read for upper elementary school teachers, parents and students.
This is a character-driven realistic fiction novel with an unlikely protagonist, Albie. Albie is a fifth grader who is “absolutely almost”; he struggles doing well in school, being “cool”, or finding something he is a good at. Throughout his life, he’s always been an almost — almost good enough, almost ready. This is a book about being average. To Albie, nothing comes easily.
I follow a reading blog by Katherine Sokolowski who sums Albie up perfectly — “School is hard for Albie. He tries, and tries, but nothing comes easy. Not reading, not writing, not math. He’s not an artist, not a jock, he’s just Albie. He’s good, and kind, and loyal, but he does not stand out. For the most part, he’s ok with that, but his parents aren’t. Albie struggles against their expectations and tries to figure out where he fits in. He is aided by a new babysitter, Calista, who sees Albie for the wonderful person he truly is.”
In this novel, Lisa Graff offers an honest portrayal of a low-average student in a school (and world) where honors is the expectation. This book allows the reader to see inside the mind of a student who is struggling academically, to see that learning doesn’t come easily to us all. Through this novel, students are able to hear the thoughts of an ordinary kid who struggles to meet his parents expectations and understand where he fits in. In the end, we learn that Albie does have a strength, just not the conventional academic kind.
This novel also has many ties to Wonder, so many connections can be drawn. My class read Wonder over the summer, and The Julian Chapter was our first class read aloud. I’m looking forward to keeping the theme of kindness going with this novel, as well as discussing the similarities and differences of the protagonists.
Currently, there aren’t any guides or read aloud resources to use with this novel. I put a guide together for myself. Please feel free to use it and adapt it as you see fit. I hope you find it helpful! Click here to view my guide.