HERO by Sarah Lean

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Leo feels that he is not good at anything. His parents seem so proud of his siblings for their intelligence and skills at sports, but all Leo is good at is daydreaming and being laughed at by the cool kids.  When a class presentation gone wrong causes Leo to accidentally injure his teacher, the coolest kid in the class, Warren, suddenly wants to be his friend. Trying to impress Warren and his friends, Leo participates in their pranks. But when the boys chase a little dog to the edge of a pond, Leo feels like their mischief has gone too far. He loses control of his bike and winds up in the pond, and the other boys abandon him. But the little dog helps to pull him out. Not wanting to admit to what he was doing, Leo makes up a story about how he rescued the dog from the pond. The story travels around town and Leo becomes a local hero. But in a real emergency, will Leo have the courage he needs to do the right thing?

This simple story about friendship is on a middle grade reading level, but will likely appeal to younger kids as well. The plot is not very high stakes or suspenseful, and the characters are largely archetypal, but those who enjoy realistic fiction, especially books about animals, will find it a quick and enjoyable read.

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