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A coming-of-age tale about a boy who discovers a love of poetry after finding his late father's journal. Adapted from a story that first appeared in Flying Lessons & Other Stories and perfect for fans of The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson. Isaiah is now the big man of the house. But it's a lot harder than his dad made it look. His little sister, Charlie, asks too man A coming-of-age tale about a boy who discovers a love of poetry after finding his late father's journal. Adapted from a story that first appeared in Flying Lessons & Other Stories and perfect for fans of The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson. Isaiah is now the big man of the house. But it's a lot harder than his dad made it look. His little sister, Charlie, asks too many questions, and Mama's gone totally silent. Good thing Isaiah can count on his best friend, Sneaky, who always has a scheme for getting around the rules. Plus, his classmate Angel has a few good ideas of her own--once she stops hassling Isaiah. And when things get really tough, there's Daddy's journal, filled with stories about the amazing Isaiah Dunn, a superhero who gets his powers from beans and rice. Isaiah wishes his dad's tales were real. He could use those powers right about now! Kelly J. Baptist's debut novel explores the indomitable spirit of a ten-year-old boy and the superhero strength it takes to grow up.


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A coming-of-age tale about a boy who discovers a love of poetry after finding his late father's journal. Adapted from a story that first appeared in Flying Lessons & Other Stories and perfect for fans of The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson. Isaiah is now the big man of the house. But it's a lot harder than his dad made it look. His little sister, Charlie, asks too man A coming-of-age tale about a boy who discovers a love of poetry after finding his late father's journal. Adapted from a story that first appeared in Flying Lessons & Other Stories and perfect for fans of The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson. Isaiah is now the big man of the house. But it's a lot harder than his dad made it look. His little sister, Charlie, asks too many questions, and Mama's gone totally silent. Good thing Isaiah can count on his best friend, Sneaky, who always has a scheme for getting around the rules. Plus, his classmate Angel has a few good ideas of her own--once she stops hassling Isaiah. And when things get really tough, there's Daddy's journal, filled with stories about the amazing Isaiah Dunn, a superhero who gets his powers from beans and rice. Isaiah wishes his dad's tales were real. He could use those powers right about now! Kelly J. Baptist's debut novel explores the indomitable spirit of a ten-year-old boy and the superhero strength it takes to grow up.

30 review for Isaiah Dunn Is My Hero

  1. 4 out of 5

    Drewthereader20

    Wow! What an amazing novel! This was my first novel by this author and I really enjoyed it! Issah dunn is my hero by kelly J Baptist is a middle grade novel that is about our main protaginist name Isaiah who is dealing with grief in the very beginning of the novel because his father passed away and so he's dealing with some grief that he is dealing with. This was a great novel and it took me awhile to read this arc but it was so worth it! Also happy book birthday to this novel it just came out Wow! What an amazing novel! This was my first novel by this author and I really enjoyed it! Issah dunn is my hero by kelly J Baptist is a middle grade novel that is about our main protaginist name Isaiah who is dealing with grief in the very beginning of the novel because his father passed away and so he's dealing with some grief that he is dealing with. This was a great novel and it took me awhile to read this arc but it was so worth it! Also happy book birthday to this novel it just came out today!(: 5/5 Stars

  2. 4 out of 5

    Drewthereader20

    Wow this was amazing! So happy I got an e-arc from netgalley and the publishing house early and read it in time! This comes out Tuesday August 18!

  3. 5 out of 5

    CW (The Quiet Pond) ✨

    This book is so stunning - heartaching, so genuine, confronting, but ultimately hopeful. I loved this - loved even more that this is an adaptation from Baptist's contribution to the We Need Diverse Book's Flying Lessons anthology (one of my first anthologies ever!). - Follows Isaish, a Black boy who is grieving the loss of his father, and enters his father's story - where Isaiah is the hero - into his local library's story competition. - Where the short story and this book differ: we see more of This book is so stunning - heartaching, so genuine, confronting, but ultimately hopeful. I loved this - loved even more that this is an adaptation from Baptist's contribution to the We Need Diverse Book's Flying Lessons anthology (one of my first anthologies ever!). - Follows Isaish, a Black boy who is grieving the loss of his father, and enters his father's story - where Isaiah is the hero - into his local library's story competition. - Where the short story and this book differ: we see more of Isaiah's school life, we see him grapple and navigate a relationship with his bully-turned-friend, we see Isaiah's love for writing, and, importantly, we see a lot more of Isaiah's home life. - This book interweaves a lot of things, which is what makes this book so remarkable: friendship, love for writing and the power of stories, homelessness, grief, and the power of community. - This book is filled with so many emotions - it really takes you on a journey of Isaiah's life and the ups and the many downs. But it never feels like a 'pain' narrative; rather, an honest story about the realities that many families face. Trigger/content warning: death of loved one (mentioned multiple times), bullying, alcohol consumption (of an adult in the story), homelessness.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Tzipora

    I love, love, love that Isaiah Dunn is My Hero is an Own Voices middle grade novel that really honestly depicts the difficult things that many young people face. But it doesn’t only depict the bad- there’s so much beautiful depiction of the kind of care communities that exist in the Black community- the way people step up and look out for one another and their kids and families. There’s also the awesomeness that is a little boy who loves poetry even though at first he feels embarrassed about it. I love, love, love that Isaiah Dunn is My Hero is an Own Voices middle grade novel that really honestly depicts the difficult things that many young people face. But it doesn’t only depict the bad- there’s so much beautiful depiction of the kind of care communities that exist in the Black community- the way people step up and look out for one another and their kids and families. There’s also the awesomeness that is a little boy who loves poetry even though at first he feels embarrassed about it. This is the kind of book we need more of. Isaiah Dunn is a 10 year old boy who loves writing and poetry. His father, Gary, passed away last year and his mom is having a really rough time coping. They’ve lost their apartment and are living in a hotel. And Isaiah knows his mom has good day and bad, but is never quite sure just what kind of day each will be. He clings to a notebook his father wrote stories in about a superhero named Isaiah Dunn who gets his powers from beans & rice. It’s in these stories that Isaiah is able to escape and hold onto his father. He just wishes he had real superpowers and could get his mom and younger sister Charlie into a new and even better home. Isaiah sets out to help his mom out by earning money and along the way he learns what real strength is. This story was everything an good story should be- there was a lot of emotion. At times my heart broke for Isaiah and his family. We get to watch Isaiah learn and grow too, all the good and bad that entails. There’s his friendship with a boy named Sneaky and a school bully named Angel. But in so many ways this is a story that teaches that we all contain multitudes- no one is all good or all bad. There’s a redemption narrative throughout that doesn’t condescend or seek to tokenize or sensationalize the difficulties lower income families and those who have lost a loved one or faced homelessness deal with. Isaiah also ends up finding a couple of fantastic male role models who help him honor his father and continue to grow. There’s Mr. Shepard, the librarian and Rock, the barber. There’s also Miz Rita, an older woman and friend of the family from their old apartment building who really looks out for the whole family. I think in many ways Isaiah ultimately learns none of us have superhuman strength or special powers but that by working together a lot of good can happen. This is a beautiful, complex story that deals with real issues. And the kinds of issues that rarely or are never written about in kidlit. I could see this book being a lifeline for the right kid, in much the same way writing and stories are a lifeline for Isaiah.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sheena ☆ Oh, the Sheenanigans!

    “Isaiah Dunn Is My Hero” was a children to middle grade standout and I was surprised it touch based on sensitive subjects such as death, grievance, alcoholism, bullying, and homelessness which is all told in a 10-11 year old boy’s perspective. It touched home and most readers can easily relate to Isaiah’s story. Needless to say, I was impressed with the author's ability to tell the story in a child's eyes and what his thought process was when it seemed like everything in his life “Isaiah Dunn Is My Hero” was a children to middle grade standout and I was surprised it touch based on sensitive subjects such as death, grievance, alcoholism, bullying, and homelessness which is all told in a 10-11 year old boy’s perspective. It touched home and most readers can easily relate to Isaiah’s story. Needless to say, I was impressed with the author's ability to tell the story in a child's eyes and what his thought process was when it seemed like everything in his life was falling apart when his late father suddenly passes.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    Even though this book is geared towards the younger crowd I really enjoyed it. Isaiah was written as a really strong character from the beginning and throughout the entire book he grew stronger. His little sister Charlie was written in to show Isaiah’s soft side and she really brought it out of him. This book goes to show that even though you think you have it bad you never know what someone else may be going through. I read this book in two sittings and if it wasn’t for work I’d have finished i Even though this book is geared towards the younger crowd I really enjoyed it. Isaiah was written as a really strong character from the beginning and throughout the entire book he grew stronger. His little sister Charlie was written in to show Isaiah’s soft side and she really brought it out of him. This book goes to show that even though you think you have it bad you never know what someone else may be going through. I read this book in two sittings and if it wasn’t for work I’d have finished it in one!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Carol (Reading Ladies)

    (This review first appeared on my Reading Ladies blog) Are you someone’s Hero? Isaiah is the older brother and is grieving the loss of his father. Isaiah feels the burden of holding the family together. The most important people in his life include his four-year-old sister who never stops asking questions, his mother who is depressed and drinking too much, and his best friend Sneaky. Because of her grief, Mom has taken a leave of absence from her job and they lose their apartment when she has diff (This review first appeared on my Reading Ladies blog) Are you someone’s Hero? Isaiah is the older brother and is grieving the loss of his father. Isaiah feels the burden of holding the family together. The most important people in his life include his four-year-old sister who never stops asking questions, his mother who is depressed and drinking too much, and his best friend Sneaky. Because of her grief, Mom has taken a leave of absence from her job and they lose their apartment when she has difficulty paying the rent. As the pressure mounts, Isaiah gets in trouble at school and fights with his best friend. Isaiah’s one true comfort is reading the stories in his dad’s journal that his dad wrote for him, and his safe place is the library. In his dad’s stories, Isaiah is a hero and Isaiah ponders how he can be a hero and help his family. Can librarians, barbers, and neighbors be heroes? I love the “hero” theme in this story that plays out on many different levels. Of course, Isaiah is a hero as he bravely manages his daily life and grieves for his dad at the same time. His little sister views Isaiah as her hero as he cares for her and reads to her. There are unsung heroes in the story, as well, as we consider the librarian, the barber, and a caring neighbor. I love that compassionate, insightful, and caring people in the community find it in their hearts to be heroes to struggling kids. All MG fiction weaves in an element of hope, and it’s not a spoiler to say you will love the heartfelt end of this story! On the subject of themes, I love the other thoughtful themes here that include grief, homelessness, poverty, compassion, bullying, kindness, depression, writing, and family. I love that Middle Grade lit addresses issues that kids might face in gentle and hopeful ways (because the middle-grade genre always infuses hope!). For literacy advocates, Isaiah Dunn has a strong, lovely, and compelling story line about writing, the power of words, reading, poetry, and libraries! Kids interested in writing will love Isaiah and this story! I’m highly recommending Isaiah Dunn for middle-grade readers and for adult readers who love middle-grade lit, for fans of poignant and inspiring stories, for those looking for more diversity in their reading, and for superheroes! This will definitely be added to my list of favorite middle grade reads. ***Trigger Warnings are always a bit “spoilerish.”*** Content Considerations/Trigger Warnings: grieving the loss of a parent, depression and drinking, bullying, homelessness and poverty. (all approached in gentle and light ways and appropriate for middle grade readers) For more reviews visit my blog www.readingladies.com

  8. 4 out of 5

    meghana. s

    (E-Arc courtesy of Net Galley) 3.5/5 ✨ ( rounded up because I am not the target audience anyways) Whilst I found the writing style a bit disjointed this book was overall a book about a hardworking kid who is just trynna do what’s right and finding moments of joy throughly the struggle. I would definitely recommend this to any middle schooler or even elementary school kid. Such a heartwarming story!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Emily (moonlight&moths)

    The amount of times I cried while reading this story... better review to come!

  10. 4 out of 5

    melhara

    This was a good middle-grade book about Isaiah Dunn - a young boy who has to deal with the recent passing of his father, his mother's drinking problem, and living in poverty/homelessness. When Isaiah stumbles upon short stories written by his late father about Isaiah being a hero, it empowered him to work hard to provide for his family and 'hustle the right way' by finding a job and writing poetry. I would rate this book higher, but I wasn't the biggest fan of the audiobook at times. Even so, I t This was a good middle-grade book about Isaiah Dunn - a young boy who has to deal with the recent passing of his father, his mother's drinking problem, and living in poverty/homelessness. When Isaiah stumbles upon short stories written by his late father about Isaiah being a hero, it empowered him to work hard to provide for his family and 'hustle the right way' by finding a job and writing poetry. I would rate this book higher, but I wasn't the biggest fan of the audiobook at times. Even so, I thought this book had great character development and did a fantastic job discussing heavier topics while keeping a hopeful and inspiring tone.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Laura Gardner

    Grades 4-6. Very good! Fabulous ending.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Cindy Mitchell *Kiss the Book*

    Isaiah Dunn is my Hero by Kelly J. Baptist, 191 pages. Crown (Random House), August 2020. $17. Content: G BUYING ADVISORY: EL - ADVISABLE AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE Isaiah Dunn, 10yo, his little sister, Charlie, and their Mom, are barely holding on. Since Dad dies a few months ago, they live in a month to month apartment. And now Mama seems to be drowning her sorrows in alcohol. Isaiah is working with his best friend, Sneaky on a side hustle – but involves sneaking into gang territory and maybe gettin Isaiah Dunn is my Hero by Kelly J. Baptist, 191 pages. Crown (Random House), August 2020. $17. Content: G BUYING ADVISORY: EL - ADVISABLE AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE Isaiah Dunn, 10yo, his little sister, Charlie, and their Mom, are barely holding on. Since Dad dies a few months ago, they live in a month to month apartment. And now Mama seems to be drowning her sorrows in alcohol. Isaiah is working with his best friend, Sneaky on a side hustle – but involves sneaking into gang territory and maybe getting into trouble at school. He finds an after school job sweeping at a local barbershop. But the only thing really holding Isaiah together is reading his dad’s notebooks, where he recorded his thoughts and his stories. Baptist’s first short story about Isaiah Dunn is in the Flying Lessons story collection from #weneeddivesebooks. The death of a parent is hard enough for a child or spouse – but watching Isaiah’s safety net disappear is hard to read. Luckily there are a few safety nets that might be able to catch this particular family. Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS https://kissthebookjr.blogspot.com/20...

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lesley

    Fact: An estimated 1 out of 14 children in the U.S. will experience the death of a parent or sibling before they reach the age of 18; one out of every 20 children aged fifteen and younger will suffer the loss of one or both parents. Fact: The number of homeless students enrolled in public school districts and reported by state educational agencies during school year 2017-18 was 1,508,265. This number does not reflect the totality of children and youth experiencing homelessness, as it only includ Fact: An estimated 1 out of 14 children in the U.S. will experience the death of a parent or sibling before they reach the age of 18; one out of every 20 children aged fifteen and younger will suffer the loss of one or both parents. Fact: The number of homeless students enrolled in public school districts and reported by state educational agencies during school year 2017-18 was 1,508,265. This number does not reflect the totality of children and youth experiencing homelessness, as it only includes those students who are enrolled in public school districts or local educational agencies. Fact: Sometimes these two facts are related. Statistically these children are hidden in plain sight in our classrooms. Some of them are our students and others are our students’ friends. Readers need to see their lives and the lives of their classmates reflected in story to feel heard and valued and to gain empathy for others. Isaiah Dunn was one of these children. After his father died suddenly of a heart attack, his mother, too depressed to work, took her solace in bottles. “But I do think. About how the world can be good and happy for one person, but bad and sad for somebody else. And how everything can change in just one minute…like it did for me, Mama, Daddy, and Charlie.” (21) Fifth-grader Isaiah Dunn, his mother, and his 4-year-old sister lost their apartment and moved into the “Smokey Inn,” which is how Isaiah refers to their motel. But they then lost even that and for a few days lived in their car until they were rescued by a former neighbor. “Every day Mrs. Fisher writes a sentence on the board, and we have a few minutes to write something about it. Today she wrote, ‘My world is a good and happy place.” (21)…I keep my workbook closed, too, cuz there’s no way I’m writing and words about being safe and happy.” (23) And a few days later, “I wanna tell Mrs. Fisher there’s no way I’m writing about ‘my favorite room in my house’.”(55) But Isaiah does have his father’s notebook of stories of the superhero Isaiah Dunn which he reads slowly and savors, and he has a love of words, a talent for writing poems, and the goal of making enough money somehow to move his family into a house. He truly wants to be Isaiah Dunn, Superhero. But life is tough, and young adolescent lives are complicated under the best of circumstances. The reader follows Isaiah’s year as he navigates changing relationships with classmates and faces his own grief, attempting to hold his family together, and we cheer him on as he creates a lasting tribute to his father’s memory. Isaiah Dunn’s story began in the short story anthology Flying Lessons, and author Kelly Baptist develops this engaging character in this first novel which I devoured in one day and a small box of tissues.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Danielle Booey

    Oh my gosh Isaiah Dunn. I just wanted to scoop him, Charlie, and his mama up and hold them close to my heart. When Isaiah's father dies from a sudden heart attack on Thanksgiving he leaves a hole in the hearts of the entire Dunn family. Isaiah's mom falls into a deep depression that causes her to lose her job and spend her days napping or drinking. Isaiah wants nothing more than to help get his family out of the financial troubles they find themselves in. What follows is a series of contests, side Oh my gosh Isaiah Dunn. I just wanted to scoop him, Charlie, and his mama up and hold them close to my heart. When Isaiah's father dies from a sudden heart attack on Thanksgiving he leaves a hole in the hearts of the entire Dunn family. Isaiah's mom falls into a deep depression that causes her to lose her job and spend her days napping or drinking. Isaiah wants nothing more than to help get his family out of the financial troubles they find themselves in. What follows is a series of contests, side hustles, hard life lessons, found family bonding, library time, and so many poems. Reading books that really show you never quite know what is going on in someone else's life until you walk in their shoes is so important. And I love that this book shows a boy who keeps trying his best even and in spite of life being so incredibly unfair to his family. Isaiah Dunn is my hero.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Cassie Thomas

    This is such a fantastic story to explore the depths of homelessness and the emotions that kids experiencing this event feel and how they react. It cuts deep into loss and grief; how someone can spiral downward after an unexpected loss. The interwoven themes of friendship curating from enemies, friendship from legacies, and friendship from the start, are all situations children are experiencing today. The integrity in Isaiah Dunn is something admirable. I hope kids read this and understand life This is such a fantastic story to explore the depths of homelessness and the emotions that kids experiencing this event feel and how they react. It cuts deep into loss and grief; how someone can spiral downward after an unexpected loss. The interwoven themes of friendship curating from enemies, friendship from legacies, and friendship from the start, are all situations children are experiencing today. The integrity in Isaiah Dunn is something admirable. I hope kids read this and understand life is about what you put into it, and what you get out reflects just that. Can’t wait to share with students.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Janice

    Omgosh, this is the most perfect book for 5th and 6th graders. I completely loved it and rooted for Isaiah the whole time. And thank God for good adult influences like Mr. Shepard. the librarian; Rock, the barber; and Miz Rita, an angel on earth. Oh! There was one thing that bugged me: when Isaiah was in the library looking for Langston Hughes books, the librarian helped him look them up, and said something like, “the biographies are in the fiction section.” Um, no. Absolutely not. How could that Omgosh, this is the most perfect book for 5th and 6th graders. I completely loved it and rooted for Isaiah the whole time. And thank God for good adult influences like Mr. Shepard. the librarian; Rock, the barber; and Miz Rita, an angel on earth. Oh! There was one thing that bugged me: when Isaiah was in the library looking for Langston Hughes books, the librarian helped him look them up, and said something like, “the biographies are in the fiction section.” Um, no. Absolutely not. How could that error get through editing and proofreading? I had to take away a star for that.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Cathy

    I was rooting for Isaiah Dunn 100% in this book! I hadn’t read about him in Flying Lessons, but have requested the book so I can backtrack and read him as he was originally introduced. Regardless, I sincerely hope his story continues in one way or another. Between losing his dad, taking care of a younger sister that has withdrawn and isn’t talking, bullying, near homelessness and more, the book never loses hope and isn’t written in a way that scares readers away. Fingers crossed we see more of I I was rooting for Isaiah Dunn 100% in this book! I hadn’t read about him in Flying Lessons, but have requested the book so I can backtrack and read him as he was originally introduced. Regardless, I sincerely hope his story continues in one way or another. Between losing his dad, taking care of a younger sister that has withdrawn and isn’t talking, bullying, near homelessness and more, the book never loses hope and isn’t written in a way that scares readers away. Fingers crossed we see more of Isaiah or his family in year eleven.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Hoover Public Library Kids and Teens

    I first met Isaiah in “The Rice and Beans Chronicles of Isaiah Dunn,” a short story in 2017’s Flying Lessons & Other Stories. I'm so glad I get to read more about him! 10-year-old Isaiah Dunn’s life has been spiraling out of control since his father died four months ago. His mother struggles with alcoholism, his family is in danger of being evicted from the cheap motel they moved into after losing their apartment, and his very real frustrations are causing problems at school. I first met Isaiah in “The Rice and Beans Chronicles of Isaiah Dunn,” a short story in 2017’s Flying Lessons & Other Stories. I'm so glad I get to read more about him! 10-year-old Isaiah Dunn’s life has been spiraling out of control since his father died four months ago. His mother struggles with alcoholism, his family is in danger of being evicted from the cheap motel they moved into after losing their apartment, and his very real frustrations are causing problems at school.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Isaiah wants to write like his father, who kept notebooks of his stories, but never had them published. He wants to, but has been unable to since his father died, and his mother has spiraled down into drinking. This is a great story, inspired by the author, a teacher, seeing children who might go to her school, who are homeless. Through this all, Isaiah, if he can't write, he makes sure that his dad's stories are out there. He also reads the stories every day. I read this story so fast, because it Isaiah wants to write like his father, who kept notebooks of his stories, but never had them published. He wants to, but has been unable to since his father died, and his mother has spiraled down into drinking. This is a great story, inspired by the author, a teacher, seeing children who might go to her school, who are homeless. Through this all, Isaiah, if he can't write, he makes sure that his dad's stories are out there. He also reads the stories every day. I read this story so fast, because it was so well written, and I really wanted to know what happened to Isaiah and his family. It is both heart breaking, and wonderful, at the same time. Friendships, bullying, and hiding his homelessness are all part of Isaiah's world. Yes, he is my hero too. Thanks to Netgalley for making this book available for an honest review.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Wendy Thomas

    There is nothing I didn't like about this book! And Isaiah Dunn really is my hero! Great writing, great characters, great story. A rich read with lots of subplots that are fully developed and great stories on their own. The diversity and sub-themes of homelessness, food insecurity and parental addiction offer lots of representation but with an undercurrent of hope.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kathy Mathey

    More like a 4.5 rating ~ so many talking points and a tender, sweet story. The characterizations are real and genuine; the problems are not easily solved. Also worth mentioning is the shout out to writing as a balm to help comfort and soothe in times of trouble.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ms Threlkeld

    Interesting, layered story and characters I genuinely cared about.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Smith

    I first met Isaiah Dunn when I read Flying Lessons and I am so exited to be reunited with him. After the loss of Isaiah’s dad, Isaiah’s mom struggles with grief and substance abuse. Isaiah and his family then lose their home. Isaiah does his best to cope. His father may be gone, but Isaiah still has his father’s stories, which give him the strength to be the hero his mother, little sister, and even he himself need. This heartfelt story of grief, friendship, and new beginnings will stick with read I first met Isaiah Dunn when I read Flying Lessons and I am so exited to be reunited with him. After the loss of Isaiah’s dad, Isaiah’s mom struggles with grief and substance abuse. Isaiah and his family then lose their home. Isaiah does his best to cope. His father may be gone, but Isaiah still has his father’s stories, which give him the strength to be the hero his mother, little sister, and even he himself need. This heartfelt story of grief, friendship, and new beginnings will stick with readers long after they’ve finished. Thanks to Random House Kids for sharing an eARC with #BookAllies in exchange for an honest review.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kim Bahr

    Almost a 5! Such a sweet and tender story.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Donna Gephart

    Isaiah Dunn will make a beeline straight from the pages of this slim gem of a book by Kelly J. Baptist to your heart. Isaiah is such a good-hearted kid in such tough situations. Sure, he makes some mistakes. Sure, he isn't perfect. But he's good. He's a good brother to his little sister, Charlie. He's a good son to his mom and to the memory of his dad. He's a good friend. He's a good member of the community . . . and that's where the beauty of this book lies. When Isaiah and his family are strug Isaiah Dunn will make a beeline straight from the pages of this slim gem of a book by Kelly J. Baptist to your heart. Isaiah is such a good-hearted kid in such tough situations. Sure, he makes some mistakes. Sure, he isn't perfect. But he's good. He's a good brother to his little sister, Charlie. He's a good son to his mom and to the memory of his dad. He's a good friend. He's a good member of the community . . . and that's where the beauty of this book lies. When Isaiah and his family are struggling, when they are at their worst, the community lifts them up. The barber shop owner. The neighbor. The librarian. The friend's parent. They all work together to do what we should all do -- care about each other and lift each other up over difficult circumstances. I loved this book, which captures the creative spirit of a young writer who is inspired by his dad's creativity and imagination. I can't wait for the next middle grade masterpiece that Kelly J. Baptist creates.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ms. Yingling

    E ARC provided by Netgalley When Gary Dunn died, he left behind Isaiah, his mother, and his young sister Charlie. It's been difficult, especially for the mother, who has had a lot of difficulty with the loss, has turned to drink, and has stopped going to work. Because of this, the family is living in a hotel that Isaiah calls the Smoky Inn, because of the strong odor of cigarettes. Isaiah has a good friend, Sneaky, who he helps with his candy resale business, even if it means going to a somewhat E ARC provided by Netgalley When Gary Dunn died, he left behind Isaiah, his mother, and his young sister Charlie. It's been difficult, especially for the mother, who has had a lot of difficulty with the loss, has turned to drink, and has stopped going to work. Because of this, the family is living in a hotel that Isaiah calls the Smoky Inn, because of the strong odor of cigarettes. Isaiah has a good friend, Sneaky, who he helps with his candy resale business, even if it means going to a somewhat sketchy store his mother doesn't like to get their inventory. He struggles a bit in school, especially when classmate Angel gets on his case. He is sent to the office frequently, but the staff is usually understanding of his loss. Isaiah loves to write, just like his father did, and takes comfort in reading the notebook of stories that his father left behind, including stories in which Isaiah is depicted as a super hero who gets his powers from beans and rice. Getting those beans and rice proves harder for the mother as time wears on, and Isaiah is mortified when the family gets groceries at Seven Baskets, a food pantry, and he sees Angel there. Trying to help out, Isaiah goes to the local barbershop to ask if he can earn some money sweeping up hair; he knows that his mother and Charlie take great comfort in going to see Miz Rita at their own hair salon. He also spends a lot of time at the library, especially when he and Angel are assigned a project together. When his mother doesn't return to work, she gets behind on paying for the room, and the police come and kick the family out. After spending the night in their car and struggling through a day at school, Isaiah and his mother end up retrieving Charlie from Miz Rita's. The mother breaks down and tells Miz Rita how she has been struggling. The family stays with her for a while, and the mother eventually goes to rehab for a month. Isaiah has entered one of his father's stories in a writing contest, and he also works with the librarian to clean out a storage room in the library to turn into the Gary Dunn Writing Center to honor his father. With support from their community, the family starts find a path forward. Strengths: Even though the mother is dealing very poorly with the father's death (on a personal level, I will never enjoy the depiction of grieving parents very much), Isaiah is trying very hard to find bright spots about his father's memory, and makes an effort to help his mother out. It's always good to see middle grade characters be industrious. I also enjoyed that he made peace with his nemesis, Angel, and found it interesting that she was so mean because of something she heard Isaiah say. The adults in Isaiah's life try to help, and ask the right questions, but don't follow through, which seems realistic. This was a great length and has a fantastic cover. Weaknesses: This would be easier to get students to read if the story line besides the family's struggles had been a bit more fast paced. I liked that Isaiah enjoyed writing, but it does make for a slower paced story. Sneaky was an interesting character, and it would have been interesting to include more of his business dealings as a way to lighten the mood a little. What I really think: This reminded me a little of Nikki Grimes's Garvey's Choice (the writing), Pyron's Stay (the housing insecurity) and Ogle's Free Lunch and Balliet's Hold Fast (general struggles). Even though Isaiah is a bit younger than my students, I think the story is an important and interesting one, so I will purchase it for my library. I will look forward to other books by this author. It's interesting that this author has a picture book, The Electric Slide and Kai, coming out in July. The Electric Slide (aka The Hustle) is the only dance that I have ever been able to master!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Virginia McGee Butler

    I read Isaiah Dunn Is My Hero by Kelly Baptist in an advance reading copy furnished by Net Galley. It has been quite a while since I’ve stayed awake until near midnight to finish reading, but I couldn’t rest easy until Isaiah had found peace! Kelly Baptist brings her experience as a Social Emotional Learning Interventionist to her writing to tell the story of ten-year-old Isaiah. His jobless mother finds comfort in the bottles Isaiah finds in the trash after the death of his father while he tries I read Isaiah Dunn Is My Hero by Kelly Baptist in an advance reading copy furnished by Net Galley. It has been quite a while since I’ve stayed awake until near midnight to finish reading, but I couldn’t rest easy until Isaiah had found peace! Kelly Baptist brings her experience as a Social Emotional Learning Interventionist to her writing to tell the story of ten-year-old Isaiah. His jobless mother finds comfort in the bottles Isaiah finds in the trash after the death of his father while he tries to maintain some normality for his inquisitive little sister Charlie even when they wind up living in a cheap motel and then homeless. Setting the stage early in the book, Isaiah lists his fears, “daddy long-leg spiders, tsunamis, and dogs” before adding “eating beans and rice every day, not being able to write poems, and having to live at Smoky Inn forever.” As if these problems were not enough, there is school where students tease him about his differences and bullies keep him in hot water. Angel sits across from him, making snide remarks and getting him into trouble, until a few visits with the principal get the two of them sent to spend time in the Reflection Room with the counselor Mrs. Marlee. His scheming best friend, appropriately nicknamed “Sneaky,” helps him circumvent the rules and find ways to pull in a little money though it never amounts to enough to buy or rent the big house he dreams about for his family. Then there is his father’s journal with stories of the amazing Isaiah Dunn Superhero whose powers come from a diet of beans and rice. In time, Isaiah will find his own writing voice in poetry that is even more powerful. I love finding good writers at the beginning of their careers, and I am predicting this debut middle grade novel will be on many suggested reading lists. The characters are well-drawn, and the situations are so realistic that you want to pitch in and help Isaiah in his aspirations to become the hero. Lucky for you, it goes on sale tomorrow August 18!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Pam

    I received an electronic ARC from Random House Children's Publishing through NetGalley. Baptist captures the all too real environment for so many of our kids. Isaiah's dad died before the story opens and readers see how this family is coping. His mom has lost her way and is escaping grief through drinking. They lost their apartment and will end up homeless as the story unfolds. Isaiah escapes and tries to keep his dad close by reading the stories he wrote - including many where Isaiah is the supe I received an electronic ARC from Random House Children's Publishing through NetGalley. Baptist captures the all too real environment for so many of our kids. Isaiah's dad died before the story opens and readers see how this family is coping. His mom has lost her way and is escaping grief through drinking. They lost their apartment and will end up homeless as the story unfolds. Isaiah escapes and tries to keep his dad close by reading the stories he wrote - including many where Isaiah is the superhero that saves the day. He's trying to do the same thing in his real life but at ten, it's way too much for him to cope with. He's also a writer but he creates poetry. Readers see this family spiral downward and begin to make their way to healing and treatment.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Carli

    Thanks to Netgalley and Crown Publishing for the advance Kindle copy of this book. All opinions are my own. • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5. Since his father died the previous year, all Isaiah has of him is his old writing notebook. With his mama still grieving - and drinking - she cannot hold down a job. Isaiah, his mom, and his little sister end up living in a hotel and then their car, while he works hard to keep up appearances at school. With the help of a barber and a librarian, he finds a channel for his grief, Thanks to Netgalley and Crown Publishing for the advance Kindle copy of this book. All opinions are my own. • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5. Since his father died the previous year, all Isaiah has of him is his old writing notebook. With his mama still grieving - and drinking - she cannot hold down a job. Isaiah, his mom, and his little sister end up living in a hotel and then their car, while he works hard to keep up appearances at school. With the help of a barber and a librarian, he finds a channel for his grief, as well as his voice. Recommended for grades 4-6.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ms. Caliendo

    This book is a tender look at family, grief, and the power of writing. I appreciate how Isaiah’s poetry matured as the story progressed, and the plot with his mom, despite the desperate ness of the situation, was handled in a way appropriate for MG. Some of the secondary relationships seemed underdeveloped once they were resolved, and a lot happens and changes really quickly. I love where it ended up.

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