Inside Hudson Pickle by Yolanda Ridge. September 5, 2017. Kids Can Press, 256 p. ISBN: 9781771386203. Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 4.8; Lexile: 660.
Cut from AAA hockey last season, seventh-grader Hudson Pickle needs to make the basketball team this year. But, after having an asthma attack at the first tryout, his chances aren’t looking good. His former best friend, Trevor, is also trying out. But he won’t even speak to Hudson since Hudson had all but ignored him while concentrating on hockey. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, now his uncle Vic — who’s been staying with him and his mom since a suspicious fire at his house —has been diagnosed with a genetic respiratory illness. Could this mean Hudson has something worse than asthma? And while this DNA mystery is being unraveled, will the truth about what happened to his father finally be revealed as well?
Yolanda Ridge’s compelling coming-of-age novel for middle-graders combines humor, action and mystery — with a dose of genetic science to keep things interesting. It offers a rich reading experience with complex characters and a multilayered story. Thoughtful, authentic and likeable Hudson will inspire readers with the grit and perseverance he relies on to get through his difficulties, and the self-deprecating wit he uses to manage middle-school social dynamics, evolving friendships and a changing family structure. There are also multiple mysteries running throughout the story — involving Hudson’s father, his uncle and his own health — that are sure to keep the pages turning.
Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language, Drugs and drug overdose, Suicide
Kirkus Reviews (July 15, 2017)
A middle schooler struggles to reconcile family secrets, his asthma, and his love of sports and firefighting. White, sports-obsessed seventh-grader Hudson Pickle is frustrated with his life. After his asthma held him back a grade and he was removed from his hockey team due to a massive growth spurt, Hudson feels anxious. He’s lost touch with his two close friends, and without his team he feels even more socially adrift. Desperate not to let his body define him, he anxiously trains for basketball tryouts and stubbornly researches firefighting as his dream career. When his uncle moves in with Hudson and his mom, Hudson’s world is shaken up: 30-something Vic is an eccentric rocker whose unusual levels of fatigue and erratic behavior make Hudson nervous. Vic’s stay pushes more questions to the surface for Hudson: is Vic a drug addict? How did Hudson’s baby brother die when Hudson was 2? Who was Hudson’s father? Hudson’s mom firmly refuses to share any information, but Hudson is determined to find answers, no matter what. Hudson’s first-person narration doesn’t always feel authentically like an American teenager’s (he lives in western New York), with occasional outdated slang and Canadian vocabulary that doesn’t fit. Heavy-handed similes and an extremely tidy conclusion further drag down the narrative. Such stronger middle-grade narratives interweaving sports and life’s struggles as Newbery winner The Crossover and newcomer Shamini Flint’s Ten (2017) mean this one can stay on the bench. (Fiction. 8-12)
School Library Journal (July 1, 2017)
Gr 5-7-A serviceable coming-of-age story about family, bullying, sports, and crushes in middle school. When Hudson’s uncle Vic’s apartment catches fire, Hudson’s mom invites Vic to live with them. Hudson is adjusting after being cut from an AAA hockey team and trying to salvage his friendships after being a jerk the year prior. Hudson has trouble talking about his feelings, especially since his mother avoids discussing family issues-mainly, who Hudson’s father is and where he lives. When Hudson’s teacher assigns the students a presentation about their future career choices, Hudson has to decide what he should pursue, which leads him on an emotional roller coaster, with his uncle along for the ride. The narrative tackles a variety of topics: asthma, a fire investigation, amateur sleuthing, and Hudson’s attempts to figure out why words never come out right when he talks to his basketball practice teammate Willow. Readers will enjoy this fast-paced book about awkward middle school adventures, the mysteries of genetics, and one boy’s efforts to cope with dark family secrets. While the characters are not particularly memorable, the journey is. VERDICT Fans of novels about sports and family drama, such as Kwame Alexander’s The Crossover, will appreciate this realistic tale.-Jessica Bratt, Grand Rapids Public Library, M
About the Author
Yolanda Ridge worked as a genetic counselor before becoming a writer — a background which helped to inform and enrich Hudson Pickle’s character and story. She is also the author of two previous middle grade novels, Trouble in the Trees and Road Block.
Yolanda lives in the mountains of interior British Columbia with her husband and two sons. When she’s not reading or crafting her next work of fiction on her treadmill desk, you’ll find her fighting the weeds in her yard or tackling the wilderness by bike. Her website is www.yolandaridge.com
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