Toppling

by Sally Murphy and Rhian Nest James

John is part of a group of tightly knit fifth-grade boys. After one of them, his... read more

John is part of a group of tightly knit fifth-grade boys. After one of them, his best friend Dom, is diagnosed with cancer, John worries that his friend will die. Dom has surgery to remove a kidney, and then undergoes chemotherapy. John misses Dom, and feels guilty when he finds himself forgetting him long enough to laugh with his other friends. But visiting Dom at the hospital is awkward, especially at first. Meanwhile, Ky, another schoolmate who isn’t part of their group and is a bit of a bully, reveals through his work on an independent project that he has been hurt by cancer, too. Sally Murphy’s sensitive, accessible novel in verse stays firmly grounded in John’s fifth-grade perspective, and seamlessly integrates John’s unique interest—setting up huge numbers of dominoes in a pattern and then toppling them. (“I do not want to see Dom topple.”) Although Dom’s future health is uncertain, the book ends on a note of hope and an act of solidarity among Dom’s friends—old and new. (Ages 7–10)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2013

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