"This enchanting, modern homage to Pinocchio reminds us anything is possible if we're true to ourselves." —Cynthia Leitich Smith, award-winning author of Ancestor Approved and Sisters of the Neversea
Eleven-year-old Matteo has never felt like one of the other boys. He’s sure that will change when he joins the Blue Whales, the baseball team his dad once played for. This is his chance to grow into a son his father can be proud of.
And grow Matteo does, but not the way he expected. Instead, he starts sprouting leaves and finding bark all over his skin. Alarmed, Matteo starts digging for the truth about what’s happening to him—and finds that all clues lead back to the oak tree at the center of town, which Creeksiders have always believed is a little bit magic. As his parents start noticing something is wrong, the truth gets harder to hide—and Matteo makes some surprising discoveries about himself, his hometown, and his entire family tree.
From Michael Leali, author of The Civil War of Amos Abernathy, this earnest deconstruction of what it means to be a “real boy” is full of humor and heart, and a surefire home run for readers of Mark Oshiro, Anne Ursu, and Katherine Applegate.
Michael Leali is an award-winning writer and educator. He earned his MFA in writing for children and young adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. He is the author of the Golden Kite Award–winning novel The Civil War of Amos Abernathy and Matteo. Born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois, Michael currently lives in California.
"This enchanting, modern homage to Pinocchio reminds us anything is possible if we're true to ourselves." — Cynthia Leitich Smith, award-winning author of Ancestor Approved and Sisters of the Neversea
“A wonderfully cinematic, compulsively readable, highly imaginative, plot-rich story with characters who come alive on the page.” — Booklist (starred review)
“Matteo, the big-hearted, gentle hero of this book, is a shining star. I felt swept up in his magical journey. I'm cheering for his happily ever after.” — Natalie Lloyd, New York Times bestselling author of Hummingbird
“Full of laughter and love, kindness and curiosity, Matteo is the best type of character to root for. I loved Matteo, and I know you will, too.” — Varian Johnson, award-winning author of Twins
“Young readers will find it easy to empathize with bright, passionate, insecure Matteo. Tear-jerking and heartwarming in equal measure.” — Kirkus Reviews
PRAISE FOR THE CIVIL WAR OF AMOS ABERNATHY: “An irresistible debut filled with heart and humor. Here is a book that doesn’t rewrite history so much as broaden its scope, bringing into focus unsung heroes, in a coming of age story that celebrates inclusivity and bravery and pride and love. Sure to connect with young readers and broaden their imaginations about the past, the present, and the future that is theirs to fight for.” — Soman Chainani, New York Times bestselling author of the School for Good and Evil series
“In his first novel, Leali has done an excellent job of telling an exceedingly timely story. It’s a valuable addition to the still-slender body of middle-school literature with queer content.” — Booklist (starred review)
“Heartfelt, humorous, and hopeful, The Civil War of Amos Abernathy affirms that some causes are worth fighting for--whether social justice or a first crush is on the line. Don't be surprised if irrepressible Amos inspires a new wave of changemakers.” — Lisa Jenn Bigelow, Lambda Literary Award-winning author of Hazel’s Theory of Evolution and Drum Roll, Please
“Entertaining and engaging. A necessary addition to all collections seeking heartwarming tales of first crushes, and the importance of centering marginalized history.” — School Library Journal (starred review)
“A testament to the power of friendship and conviction, Michael Leali's thoughtful, delightful debut is a gem for any reader beginning to ask 'Why is the world this way? And how can I make it better?'” — Adib Khorram, award-winning author of Darius the Great Is Not Okay
“A compelling debut, brimming with charming characters who take responsibility for making the world around them more honest and more inclusive.” — Kimberly Jones and Gilly Segal, New York Times Bestselling Co-Authors of I'm Not Dying with You Tonight and Why We Fly
Leali sensitively renders Matteo’s worries about his changing body and budding sexuality via a sweet fairy tale–like atmosphere, charming characters, and fantastical premise. — Publishers Weekly