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Absolutely Almost

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  9,045 ratings  ·  1,054 reviews
Albie has never been the smartest kid in his class. He has never been the tallest. Or the best at gym. Or the greatest artist. Or the most musical. In fact, Albie has a long list of the things he's not very good at. But then Albie gets a new babysitter, Calista, who helps him figure out all of the things he is good at and how he can take pride in himself. ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published June 12th 2014 by Philomel Books (first published June 1st 2014)
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I had only one thought before the slaughter This man will not make an orphan of my daughter No. Not at all. This book is really informative and it is really modern in one way. I think middle school age kids should like it and even primary sch…moreNo. Not at all. This book is really informative and it is really modern in one way. I think middle school age kids should like it and even primary school kids should like it too!(less)

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Average rating 4.02  · 
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 ·  9,045 ratings  ·  1,054 reviews

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In the stage musical of Matilda, lyricist Tim Minchin begins the show with the following lines about the state of children today: “Specialness is de rigueur. / Above average is average. Go fig-ueur! / Is it some modern miracle of calculus / That such frequent miracles don't render each one un-miraculous?” This song ran on a bit of a loop through my cranium as I read Lisa Graff latest middle grade novel Absolutely Almost. For parents, how well your child does reflects right back on you. Your chil ...more
Apr 07, 2014 rated it liked it
Spoiler Alert: There are spoilers in this review.

Albie is a fifth grade boy with academic and social problems. He is almost good at many things, but not quite good enough. His new babysitter, Calista, helps Ablie discover the things in life that make him happy and that he is good at.

I always hate it when everyone else loves a book, and I don't! Some of the problem with Absolutely Almost is that I look at literature through the lens of sixth graders because that is the grade I teach. I think this
Honest and funny, Lisa Graff's newest book had me cheering for the main character, Albie, by the first chapter. Struggling at school, teased by bullies, pressured by his parents, Albie has a lot going on in his life, and how he handles it all makes him all the more endearing. By the end, my husband and I (we read it during a road trip), were clamoring for Team Albie t-shirts. A lot of kids (and their parents, teachers, and librarians) are going to love this one. ...more
Jul 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
One day at work, I overheard a girl describing a book she couldn't wait to read to her mother: "Mom, I can't wait to read the next book! The last book ended on such a hangover!" She meant cliffhanger, her mother corrected her, we all giggled, and it was one of the many cute stories I see in a day being a children's librarian. But, I have to say, after staying up way too late to finish this book, sobbing uncontrollably at the end of it, and then being unable to sleep because I kept rolling it aro ...more
May 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: middle-grade
I have to say this book broke my heart and put it back together. I'm sure it's a great book for kids, but it has wisdom to spare for adults, especially for parents who are still learning how to parent the children they have, rather than the children they wish they had. I have just passed it along to my 19-yo to see if she finds the appeal transcends the middle-grade and middle-aged demographics. ...more
Barb Middleton
As a kid I would pretend I was a great athlete or genius. My dad is a genius. Really. He's been tested and his IQ is in the 140s. Of course I can't remember the exact number. I am not a genius. I am average. I didn't go to Harvard like dad. I wasn't a straight A student like dad. I didn't get high scores on college entrance exams. I was plain ole boring ...average. It took me a long time to be okay with that. As a kid, I would deal with it by reading books and vicariously become a superhero thro ...more
Stuti Rai
Nov 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: lovers of when you reach me and if you aren't one, why why why in your name why
You want to know how much I liked this book? I liked it thiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiis much.

"Some people aren't good at anything. Some people just really like donuts."

Lisa Graff always writes the best books ever. And they almost always fall into my lap just when I need them the most. She is my re-bound author but also so much more because the more you read her book, the better you like it, even if the wonder of first-time read her stories have isn't there. There's the wonder of revising an old, gold f
Jul 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I'm adding Albie to my small collection of characters whom I keep close and wonder about from time to time. ...more
Oct 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: juvenile_fiction
Awwwww, this was achingly sweet and difficult at the same time. A good reminder for parents that while your kid is extraordinary in many ways just being OK in some aspects of life is fine too.
Clare Cannon
A hard-done-by kid who's not very smart gets a new 'not-babysitter' who helps to challenge his low self-esteem. The story has a sweet, positive message, even if the execution is not really engrossing as a story.

We gradually relate more to young Albie, and begin to suffer his disappointments - a disengaged father, a struggling mother, getting expelled from school for not getting good enough grades, struggling with calculations, with spelling and all things educational, and finally finding a wise
Ms. Yingling
Dec 23, 2013 rated it it was ok
Albie's parents are both very demanding and very busy with their work, and his Grandpa Park also has high expectations for him, so when Albie is asked not to return to Mountford Prep, everyone is disappointed. Albie feels like he isn't talented at anything. His best friend and neighbor, Erlan, is very busy over the summer since his family (which has two sets of triplets) is filming a reality show, so he is stuck with his new nanny, Calista. Calista is very different from the other nannies, and w ...more
Aug 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This goes to my list of 'one of the most beautiful and sensitive books I have read till date.' I want every child and every grown up to read this book. The book contains a much needed message of loving a child for who s/he is and not for what what s/he has achieved. Math and reading do not come easily to 10 year old Albie so the expensive private school that his parents struggled to get him in kicked him out. Albie goes to a new school where the 'cool' kids call him retard and dummy. It hurts hi ...more
Ghazaal B.
Jun 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
When reading this book as an adult, or better to say as a "no longer a teenager", you will have a total different understanding.
Very strong. I felt every single character. Every act and react made sense to me. it made me laugh, it made ke cry, it made me pause and start over even a few days later cause I needed to digest the whole thing, And now I'm just sad that I've finnished reading it and the fact that I can't read it again as if I've never read it before.
Jul 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: unputdownable
This is the book I most desperately wish I read a few years ago, but it's still very relevant to me right now. Albie is more real than 98% of the characters I have read in books, from children's to adult's to non-fiction books. So much to write about this, so little idea of where and how to start. Proper review to come!!! ...more
Aug 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Oh, Albie.

Newbery criteria mentions "distinguished" a lot, which I know is not the same as "distinctive," but Graff has created a unique character here in that he is in fact NOT distinctive. He's just kind of stumping along in a below average way. And by the end, he's kind of ok with that (although disappointed to not be diagnosed with a reading disorder, because that would have made his parents feel better).

In a society where the pressure is on to not only keep up but edge out, and in a liter
Jun 24, 2019 rated it did not like it
so you mean we have this boy who is in fifth grade and can't lean the dictation of the word literature and can't understand anything about communicating and acts like a 4-year-old, and he has totally NO PROBLEM?
every single thing he did was a sign of autism or a least Asperger but nobody seemed no notice it.
and ok, we have this boy who really loves the girl that takes care of him, and at one point she just vanishes and the boy's like where is she? Oh, you fired her? but mommmm.... oh,
Michelle Simpson
Jun 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: middle-grades
This is a wonderful book. The characters were ordinary people, like those we meet every day, and I felt instantly connected. I so wanted Albie to succeed, to win, to get revenge, etc., but he just kept chugging along... Readers will like him and root for him throughout the story!

The book reminded me a little bit of Calli Be Gold, in that the adults in the story didn't always have realistic & even fair expectations for the child. Sometimes the child doesn't seem to have a voice when with his/her
Elwood Christen
Dec 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
best book I have read in a long time
Susan  Dunn
Jul 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! Albie is going to be starting 5th grade at a new school. He isn't quite sure why he's being transferred, but it has something to do with a letter from his old school that really upset his parents. Albie has always struggled in school. He's a kind, gentle soul - the kind of kid who, when he gets to be captain of the basketball team picks the worst play first because he feels bad that she's always picked last. But being a nice kid isn't getting Albie anywhere with his peers, or ...more
Jan 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I loved this - it's another story that has you loving and rooting for the main character from the first few pages. This has the emotional power of Wonder, Mockingbird and Out of my mind. I would love to offer my students the audiobook as well as the print copy as it would be wonderful read aloud with the right voice. As I was listening I could hears the voices from Augie and family from the Wonder audio in my head - that might just be my need to hear an American accent with this one! ...more
Aug 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens, 2016
Lisa Graff is definitely one of my favorite new (to me) middle grade novelists. I really liked her characters and the honesty with which they were portrayed. I could see trouble coming a mile away in the instances there was trouble, and it was so painful when Albie could not. Similar to The Thing About Georgie, there was the clear cut nasty name calling bully, and the individualistic caring friends. I felt vaguely unsatisfied at the end, but that felt realistic, like life.
Ryan Johnston
Jan 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
I liked the book a lot, I recommend it. It is about a kid named Albie who is not really good at anything, School, sports, art, nothing. I can relate because I am not good at school or art! It stinks not being good at anything. His new babysitter helps him figure out the things he is good at and being ok with the things he is not. I was rooting for him.
Michelle Glatt
Jan 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Top notch perspective in this book--and I can say that I haven't ever read a book about a child with learning challenges that is quite like this one. I can definitely think of a number of students who would be inspired to understanding and kindness by this novel. ...more
Jun 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Oh, this book had me from the first page. Will be my first read aloud of the school year. Beautiful.
Alex  Baugh
Nov 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: randomly-reading
When my Kiddo was around 8, we were at the beach, sharing a vacation house with family from Washington DC. Her older cousin Mary was a gymnast with a few nice wins under her belt and her cousin Daniel was quite a good artist. One day, after watching Mary do gymnastics all over the house, the beach and the street, and after watching Daniel sit with his ("no, I don't share them") art supplies, she turned to me and, with a crestfallen face, asked why she didn't have a talent, too. "Talented" was a ...more
Jun 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
When ten-year-old Albie is asked to leave his rigorous, private New York City prep school and starts public school, he isn’t sure at first why. But he soon perceives that his “tiger mom,” who insists he read Johnny Tremain rather than his beloved Captain Underpants, is disappointed in his less than stellar academic ability. Meanwhile, his father doesn’t seem to have the time of day even to work on a model plane they’re supposed to do together. The new school also brings new challenges: a great d ...more
Mar 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childrens-books
The author of A Tangle of Knots returns with a brilliant new protagonist in her new novel. Albie doesn’t get good grades, in fact he was asked to leave his private school and is going to be starting public school instead. Albie isn’t the best artist. He isn’t the best at anything at all. Except maybe at eating doughnuts for breakfast. But when he changes schools, things start to change for Albie. It could be the great new babysitter he gets, since his parents are very busy. Calista is an artist ...more
Apr 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: voice, life, not-graphic, j
"So what's Donut Man's superpower, anyway?" Calista asked . . . "Eating donuts?" She scratched her nose with the end of her marker. "Making donuts?"

I shook my head. "He doesn't have a superpower. He just really likes donuts."

"But he's a superhero," Calista said. "That means he has to have a superpower.

"Nope," I said, because I was pretty sure she was wrong. "Some people aren't good at anything. Some people just really like donuts."
Some people aren't good at anything. It's an uncomfortable truth;
Nov 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Love, love, love!!!

Albie is a fifth grader who is okay at a lot of things- but he's not *good* at anything. His parents are often disappointed with him, especially when he gets kicked out of his prep school for bad grades. And although he tries his very hardest, he just can't seem to be good *enough*. His new babysitter, Calista, gives him some confidence, as well as a new friend at school named Betsy. But Albie still struggles with spelling tests, parental drama, and friendship- as well as bull
Kelly Hager
Jan 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I bought this book a while ago, but I can't remember why. Probably one of my blogger friends was raving about it, and (as always seems to happen) I cared enough to buy it immediately but wasn't able to read it right away. And then my author and friend Liza Wiemer raved about it (read her review here) and then I knew I had to read it immediately.

And oh you guys, this book. This. Book.

I feel like a lot of times we all have this great amount of pressure to be the best at something...and I feel like
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Lisa Graff is the critically acclaimed and award-winning author of the National Book Award nominee A Tangle of Knots, as well as Lost in the Sun, Absolutely Almost, Double Dog Dare, Umbrella Summer, The Life and Crimes of Bernetta Wallflower, The Thing About Georgie and Sophie Simon Solves Them All. Originally from California, she lived for many years in New York City and now makes her home just o ...more

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