The kids at school call Jinsen ?Buddha Boy??he wears oversize tie-dyed dragon T- shirts, shaves his head, and always seems to be smiling. He?s clearly a freak. Then Justin is paired with him for a class project. As he gets to know Jinsen and his incredible artistic talent, Justin questions his own beliefs. But being friends with Buddha Boy isn?t simple, especially when Justin realizes that he?s going to have to take sides. What matters more: the high school social order or getting to know someone extraordinary?
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Kathe Koja is the author of Straydog, which Booklist called “a searing, beautiful book for young readers.” She lives in the Detroit area.
High school sophomore Justin walks the narrow line that allows him to have some friends while avoiding conflict with the popular bullies who inhabit every school. When he's assigned to a project with the new boy with a shaved head and outsized clothing, Justin worries that he'll be unable to maintain his invisibility. What follows is a burgeoning friendship as Justin learns what drives Jinsen, dubbed "Buddha Boy" by the bullies. They share a love of art, and through their work together Justin begins to understand the value of honoring oneself enough to rise above the fray. Koja's disjointed sentences lend themselves to a full-cast recording, with the various voices helping to illuminate the path Justin takes to self-awareness. Spencer Murphy does a fine job conveying Justin's fear of the unfamiliar, and Koja's author note at the end will spark discussion of the writing process, as well as the problem of dealing with bullies. S.G. © AudioFile 2004, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine
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