From award-winning author Gary D. Schmidt, a warm and witty novel in the tradition of The Wednesday Wars, in which a seventh grader has to figure out how to fulfill an assignment to perform the Twelve Labors of Hercules in real life—and makes discoveries about friendship, community, and himself along the way.
Herc Beal knows who he's named after—a mythical hero—but he's no superhero. He's the smallest kid in his class. So when his homeroom teacher at his new middle school gives him the assignment of duplicating the mythical Hercules's amazing feats in real life, he's skeptical. After all, there are no Nemean Lions on Cape Cod—and not a single Hydra in sight.
Missing his parents terribly and wishing his older brother wasn't working all the time, Herc figures out how to take his first steps along the road that the great Hercules himself once walked. Soon, new friends, human and animal, are helping him. And though his mythical role model performed his twelve labors by himself, Herc begins to see that he may not have to go it alone.
Gary D. Schmidt is the best-selling author of many books for young readers, including Just Like That; National Book Award finalist Okay for Now; Pay Attention, Carter Jones; Orbiting Jupiter; the Newbery Honor and Printz Honor Book Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy; and the Newbery Honor Book The Wednesday Wars. He is a professor of English at Calvin University in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
"Sharp and funny . . . this essential purchase will spark interest in classical mythology and encourage readers to reach out to others in times of stress." — School Library Journal (starred review)
"Schmidt employs his signature narrative style, balancing scenes of humor and affecting gravity through Hercules’s droll narration. A moving hero’s journey." — Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"This memorable novel offers emotional honesty, wit, and a hard-won, heartening perspective." — Booklist (starred review)
“In his wry and sometimes gripping story of working through grief, Schmidt gives us glorious sunrises seen from the dunes — where Hercules greets each day with a hello to his parents — and a year in the life of a nursery.” — New York Times Book Review
"Schmidt’s narrative keeps readers engaged with action [and] humor." — Horn Book Magazine
(Pay Attention, Carter Jones) "Deft use of comedic scenes and Schmidt’s trademark use of narrator-provided snark give the story the levity it needs to counteract the surprising number of tears readers are likely to shed." — Horn Book (starred review)
(Just Like That) "An unforgettable story of loss, healing, and finding one’s way.” — Booklist (starred review)
(Just Like That) “Alternating between poignant moments of humor, melancholy, and occasional suspense, Schmidt sensitively explores the various ways grief has of bringing people together.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
(Orbiting Jupiter) "The matter-of-fact narrative voice ensures that the tragic plot never overwhelms this wrenching tale of growth and loss." — School Library Journal (starred review)
(Okay for Now) "[A] stealthily powerful, unexpectedly affirming story of discovering and rescuing one’s best self." — Booklist (starred review)
(The Wednesday Wars) "Deeply satisfying." — Publishers Weekly (starred review)
(Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy) "Beautiful and emotionally honest, both funny and piercingly sad." — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)