STARRED REVIEW
June 2017

A summer on the wing

By Darcy Miller

Eleven-year-old Lauren Hall is short. And a geek. And also a boy stuck with a girl’s name. That might not be so bad if, like the grandfather for whom he was named, Ren was athletic. And so, even though he’d rather be reading comic books, Ren wakes up early every day to train for the upcoming cross-country team tryouts. If only he liked to run.

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BookPage Children’s Top Pick, June 2017

Eleven-year-old Lauren Hall is short. And a geek. And also a boy stuck with a girl’s name. That might not be so bad if, like the grandfather for whom he was named, Ren was athletic. And so, even though he’d rather be reading comic books, Ren wakes up early every day to train for the upcoming cross-country team tryouts. If only he liked to run.

To make matters worse, Ren and his parents have moved into his late grandparents’ house, eight miles away from town and his best friend, Aiden. Aiden isn’t just growing taller; he seems ready to outgrow their friendship, too.

All in all, summer’s a disappointment—until the morning Ren sees pigeons tumbling through the sky above the neighboring farmhouse. The birds belong to his new neighbor, Sutton Davies. Sutton has bright, dyed-red hair and a fierce determination to make her Birmingham Roller pigeons into champions. It won’t be easy to train the kit of pigeons to execute in unison the distinctive backward somersault, especially now that her dad is in the hospital after a car accident. But maybe Ren can help.

Darcy Miller’s middle grade debut features a rural setting in southern Minnesota and engaging characters; especially welcome is a boy narrator navigating shifting social dynamics. Don’t be surprised if readers want to return to the library, eager to find out more about those fascinating birds known as Birmingham Rollers. Roll is a great summer book for pigeon fanciers—or any young reader who fancies a good story.

 

Deborah Hopkinson lives near Portland, Oregon. Her most recent book for young readers is Independence Cake.

This article was originally published in the June 2017 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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Roll

Roll

By Darcy Miller
HarperCollins
ISBN 9780062461223

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