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Genius Jolene
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Genius Jolene
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On her annual trip in her father's 18-wheeler, eight-year-old Jolene is headed to Los Angeles on a six-day road trip to deliver some newsprint with her dad. Just like last year, they tell each other...
On her annual trip in her father's 18-wheeler, eight-year-old Jolene is headed to Los Angeles on a six-day road trip to deliver some newsprint with her dad. Just like last year, they tell each other...
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  • On her annual trip in her father's 18-wheeler, eight-year-old Jolene is headed to Los Angeles on a six-day road trip to deliver some newsprint with her dad. Just like last year, they tell each other stories and listen to music. They also keep up their favorite tradition: critiquing one type of food at every stop. This time it's onion rings.


    But this year is also different. Unlike last year, Jolene's parents are no longer together. They split up when her father came out as gay. These are big changes for Jolene, but she is spunky and smart and has a good heart. She's ready for new adventures and to stand up for what's right—both on and off the road.

About the Author-

  • Sara Cassidy is a journalist, editor and author of over 15 books for young readers. Her books have been short-listed for many awards, including the Chocolate Lily Award for both Black Gold and Blackberry Juice, the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children's Book Award for A Boy Named Queen and the Bolen Books Children's Book Prize for Skylark. Additionally, both A Boy Named Queen and Double Play were Junior Library Guild selections. Her poetry and short fiction have been widely published. She lives in Victoria, British Columbia.

Reviews-

  • Kirkus

    February 15, 2020
    Jolene accompanies her trucker dad on a job to Los Angeles. It's time for Jolene's annual adventure with her dad--she has been making long-haul trips with him since she was 4. She loves camping out in the cab, eating road-stop food, and being together on the road--just the two of them. For this trip, she's looking forward to rating onion rings together. Things are different this trip, though, because in the last year her parents got divorced when Jolene's dad came out as gay. She now alternates weeks living with her mom in their old apartment and with her dad in the new apartment he shares with his boyfriend, Joey. These are big changes, but unfortunately, the author doesn't dive deep into how Jolene is feeling about them, and it seems like a missed opportunity for exploration of identity and feelings as well as a way to model emotional communication in difficult situations. Grayscale illustrations every few pages help pace new chapter-book readers through the story. The text contains no reference to race or ethnicity for Jolene and her parents; the illustrations show a freckle-faced Jolene with brown skin while her mom has dark skin and her dad has white skin. Joey is Coast Salish, and there is an explanation of what "Indigenous" means but not much further exploration of this identity either. Backmatter includes recipes for onion rings, aioli, and spruce-tip syrup. An unremarkable father-daughter bonding story in a remarkable setting. (Fiction. 6-8)

    COPYRIGHT(2020) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    May 1, 2020

    Gr 3-5-Every year eight-year-old Jolene travels with her truck driver father on one of his deliveries. This year is a little different. Jolene's father and mother are no longer married. Instead of Jolene's mom wishing them safe travels, it's her father's boyfriend, Joey. Yet much remains the same. Jolene and her father continue their tradition of acting as unofficial food critics, evaluating onion rings at each eatery they encounter, and share deep ruminations about the origins of words and phrases. The climax of the book occurs when Jolene must confront a stranger's homophobia. She learns from her father to respond with kindness. This is a valuable lesson but feels somewhat unresolved, and as if the conflict was not fully thought out. The worth of this title lies in the representation of a multicultural cast of characters. VERDICT This approachable, representative, middle grade chapter book focusing on father-daughter relationships would be suitable as an additional purchase.-Tiffany Davis, Mount Saint Mary Coll., Newburgh, NY

    Copyright 2020 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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