Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Hold Fast

Hold Fast

Spring 2013 Fiction
Ages: 8 - 12 yrs.
Author: Blue Balliett
Publisher: Scholastic
ISBN: 9780545299886
Hardcover Price: $17.99

Hold Fast is Blue Balliett's fourth book since her smash hit Chasing Vermeer. Like her previous novels, it is a delicious blend of mystery, suspense and art. The words sing, the dialogue and characters are vibrant, and the plot races breathlessly along. There are bad guys and good guys, danger and suspense, and, of course, a brave young hero.

Early Pearl's father mysteriously disappears in the middle of a Chicago winter—plucked right off an icy street, leaving behind the scantest of clues. His disappearance and a brutal robbery leave his already financially precarious family homeless, with few resources to find him. His wife, Summer, and their two young children are plunged into the city's over-crowded shelter system. It's almost too much. But 11-year-old Early knows there are rhythms in words, and somehow they come together to form answers.

Balliett is not shy about tough subjects and tackles them head on in Hold Fast: Shelter life is a bleak reality for many good people, and homelessness can happen to anyone. Good people don't always do the right thing. Grown-ups aren't always strong.

The lyrical treats in this book, though, are many. Balliett's previous novels are infused with art, math and science, and include wonderful primers on Alexander Calder, Charles Darwin and Frank Lloyd Wright, among others. Language and words take center stage in Hold Fast, with a lovely spotlight on the poet Langston Hughes.

Teresa DiFalco   ©2013 Parents' Choice
Teresa DiFalco is an award-winning ghostwriter, writer, and mother in Vancouver, Washington. She's been a contributing editor for Parents' Choice for over ten years. She's a strong speller, a menace at badminton, and makes a decent soufflé.

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