Rocky Road
Rocky Road
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Annotation: Fashion-loving twelve-year-old Tess moves with her deaf younger brother and impulsive single mother to Schenectady, New York, where they open an ice-cream shop and lead a campaign for urban renewal.
Catalog Number: #5419585
Format: Paperback
All Formats: Search
Common Core/STEAM: Common Core Common Core
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition Date: 2010
Pages: 304
Availability: Available
ISBN: 0-375-86345-1
ISBN 13: 978-0-375-86345-5
Dewey: Fic
Language: English
ALA Booklist
With stars in her eyes, Ma moves seventh-grader Tess and her younger brother Jordan, who is deaf, from Texas to Schenectady, New York, where she plans to open an ice-cream shop. With dread in the pit of her stomach, Tess starts her new school and begins to make friends in their new neighborhood, a senior-living community. Though it's good to see her mother so full of energy, ideas, and optimism, she knows that Ma's soaring emotional states inevitably plummet into crushing episodes of depression. Readers with their own family challenges may find it heartening to see Tess handle hers by building a diverse, supportive, multigenerational community around her. The story's slow pace gives plenty of time to develop characters and relationships so that when the dreaded climax occurs, it seems believable that Tess has the help she needs to cope with it. Predictable, yes, but also a hopeful family story from the author of Kimchi and Calamari (2007).
Horn Book
Adventure-seeking Axel, a truck with "big, big wheels," wins a sandy, salty beach race and explores the dirt, rocks, and bumps of a mountain. The simple sentences bursting with energy ("Bam, bam, slam!") are ideal for beginning readers. Little truck-lovers will delight in the boisterous illustrations of mud-loving Axel and the concluding "truck body parts" diagram and tool list.
Kirkus Reviews
Yet another story about a gutsy and resourceful girl who overcomes her dysfunctional family environment with hard work and the help of her community. At 12, Tess is the primary caregiver and interpreter for her deaf younger brother; her shiftless father is absent, and her mother, Delilah, suffering from untreated bipolar disorder, makes a range of poor decisions that endangers them all. Evicted from their home in San Antonio, Texas, the family moves abruptly to Schenectady, N.Y., where Delilah hopes to open an ice-cream parlor in the depressed downtown area, and the pursuit of her scheme leads the family into even more trouble. Tess has many worries, but she perseveres, picking up some crucial problem-solving skills from her new classmates and neighbors along the way. The exaggerated Texas twang of the dialogue is grating at times, and the narrative has many bleak moments, but the story is buoyed by supporting characters who are kind, wise and relentlessly upbeat. Readers who connected with Lisa Schroeder's It's Raining Cupcakes (2010) will find this familiar terrain. (ice-cream recipes, "Ice Cream Flavors and the Inner You") (Fiction. 8-12)
Publishers Weekly
Financial troubles, bipolar disorder, and the pain of being the new kid are just a few of the themes explored in this sweet story about 12-year-old Tess Dobson, who is wise%E2%80%94and strong%E2%80%94beyond her years. She has to be: her eight-year-old younger brother, Jordan, is deaf, and her single mother, Delilah, is prone to wacky business ideas, money problems, and ""Shooting Stars,"" Tess's term for her mother's bouts of depression. After being evicted, Delilah moves Tess and Jordan from Texas to Schenectady, N.Y.%E2%80%94into a retirement community. Delilah plans to open an ice cream shop, and although things are going according to plan (Tess and Jordan are making friends in school and in their new apartment complex), Tess feels uneasy: ""My whole life I've wanted to trust Ma, but that's impossible if you're around her more than an hour."" When Shooting Stars strike on the day of the store's big opening, Tess must rely on her new friends. Though the narrative runs long and things tie up a bit too neatly, Kent's (Kimchi and Calamari) sympathetic heroine and heartening conclusion should satisfy readers. Ages 8%E2%80%9312. (June)
School Library Journal
Gr 57 Tess Dobson's life is complicated. Her younger brother, Jordan, is deaf and prone to bouts of behavior as "FrankenJordan." Her mother walks the narrow ledge of bipolar disorder, a walk that always seems to end in "shooting stars" or a crash. To make things even more complicated, Ma has decided to move the family from Texas to Schenectady, NY, where she uses all of their savings to open an ice-cream shop. Despite the promises that Schenectady will hold all the answers to their problems, this new town brings its own set of complications, which include living at a senior citizens' complex. Tess struggles with these difficulties but unexpectedly finds the support she never knew she needed. Through it all, there is ice cream. This book is sweet and leaves a relatively pleasant taste much like the rocky-road ice cream that serves as a metaphor for Tess's life. Due respect is paid to the challenges of having a parent who suffers from bipolar disorder, as well as the disorder itself. Tess seems much older than her 12 years but this is in keeping with her family situation. Her involvement with peer mediation is slightly contrived but it is necessary to her growth. As the Dobsons say, "Ice cream warms the heart," and so will this book. Naphtali L. Faris, Saint Louis Public Library, MO
Voice of Youth Advocates
Ice cream warms the heart, no matter what the weather. At least that is what Tess Dobson is hoping for when her mother abruptly moves the family from Texas to chilly Schenectady, New York. The problem is, TessÆs mother has done crazy things like this before to her and Jordan, her younger brother who is deaf. TessÆs mom uses the last of the familyÆs savings to open up an ice cream store in a bad end of town. Tess has high hopes in her new town but is also worried about her motherÆs manic depression. Her mother does not think she has a problem, but really needs medication. Tess and Jordan quickly make friends in the old folkÆs apartment complex into which they have moved. The senior residents become their extended family, while their mother frantically prepares for the grand opening of the ice cream store. Kent does a good job of creating likable characters and a fun story. It would have been nice to see more details about having a deaf sibling and the obstacles that come with that disability. Most teen girls will dive into this quick, easy read.ùRobin Guedel.
Word Count: 66,408
Reading Level: 5.3
Interest Level: 4-7
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 5.3 / points: 10.0 / quiz: 137866 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:5.4 / points:17.0 / quiz:Q50044
Lexile: 830L

Ice cream warms the heart, no matter what the weather.
That's the Dobson family motto. Whenever things get tough, they break out the special heart-shaped bowls and make sundaes. The road has been especially rocky lately for Tess and her deaf little brother, Jordan. Their plucky Texan mother talks big, but her get-rich-quick business schemes have only landed them in serious financial hot water.
Ma's newest idea is drastic. She abruptly moves the family to snowy Schenectady, New York, where she will use the last of their savings to open her dream business: an ice cream shop. (Too bad the only place she could find an apartment is in a senior citizens' complex.) Tess wants to be excited about this plan, but life in Schenectady is full of new worries. Who will buy ice cream in their shop's run-down neighborhood? What will happen when their money runs out? Worst of all is Ma herself-she's famous for her boundless energy and grandiose ideas, but only Tess and Jordan know about the dark days when she crashes and can't get out of bed. And Tess can't seem to find the right words to talk to Ma about it.
This moving story of family, community, and ice cream proves that with a little help from the people around us, life really can be sweet-and a little nutty-just like Rocky Road.

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