Simon Sort of Says (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

Erin Bow tackles the long-lasting affects of trauma and the long road to recovery for the victims, their family, friends, and the wider world with empathy, kindness, and hope. Twelve year old Simon survived the trauma of a school shooting two years ago. With his parents, he's hoping for a fresh start in a new town in the "Natural Quiet Zone," where internet, cell phones, and TV are banned. This story isn't for everyone; Bow pulls not punches as she shares the fallout from violent, traumatic events. But she also finds hope, humanity, recovery, even laughter, as Simon finds survival, healing, friendship, and a way forward. This important book does the seemingly impossible; balancing tragedy with humanity, sensitivity, and humor.

— From BookWoman Picks

January/February 2023 Kids Indie Next List

“I cannot remember the last mid-grade book that made me laugh out loud and cry real tears. Simon’s earnest voice, his parents’ humor, and their tragic story against the comic strangeness of a new town is a balancing act deserving of praise.”
— Heather Jeziorowski, Little Shop of Stories, Decatur, GA


Longlisted for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature

“Funny, poignant and—most important—hopeful.” —New York Times

For fans of Kate DiCamillo and Jack Gantos, a hilarious, wrenching, hopeful novel about finding your friends, healing your heart, and speaking your truth.

Simon O’Keeffe’s biggest claim to fame should be the time his dad accidentally gave a squirrel a holy sacrament. Or maybe the alpaca disaster that went viral on YouTube. But the story the whole world wants to tell about Simon is the one he’d do anything to forget: the one starring Simon as a famous survivor of gun violence at school.

Two years after the infamous event, twelve-year-old Simon and his family move to the National Quiet Zone—the only place in America where the internet is banned. Instead of talking about Simon, the astronomers who flock to the area are busy listening for signs of life in space. And when Simon makes a friend who’s determined to give the scientists what they’re looking for, he’ll finally have the chance to spin a new story for the world to tell.

From award-winning author Erin Bow, Simon Sort of Says is a breathtaking testament to the lasting echoes of trauma, the redemptive power of humor, and the courage it takes to move forward without forgetting the past.

About the Author

Erin Bow was born and raised in Iowa and trained as a physicist, so naturally she now spends her days writing children’s fiction in a tiny (heated) garden shed in Ontario, Canada. Her books have won a fistful of awards. Erin lives with her husband, two teenage kids, a tabby named after a rock, a black cat named after a black hole, and an empty-headed, big-hearted dog named after the moon. Visit her online at and @ErinBowBooks.

Praise For…

*An uproarious small-town comedy with a devastating tragedy at its core.
Kirkus, starred review<br>

*Despite the weighty premise, Bow’s storytelling brims with vitality, featuring many hilarious, outlandish scenes, like the antics of a funeral home’s peacock, a dog that retrieves cans of beer, and the life and death of a Jesus Squirrel. The scientific plotline is thematically compelling, and the character-driven narratives thrive in its context, including Simon’s narration of his post-traumatic healing and the development of winsome secondary characters.
The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, starred review<br>

*Without detracting from Simon’s uplifting emotional arc about making peace with his past and looking toward a brighter future with friends, Bow imbues this sincere story with levity by employing madcap plot points, including several animal-centered shenanigans featuring squirrels, dogs, and emus.
Publishers Weekly, starred review<br><br>

-Junior Library Guild Gold Standard title

[Masterful] . . . funny and heartfelt in equal measure.
School Library Journal<br><br>

A near-perfect novel that features quirky friendships, wild astronomy exploits (that almost work!), zany animal capers and plenty of humor amidst the darkness.—Shelf Awareness

Blunt as trauma, delicate as healing, and hilarious and tragic as middle school can be—each piece of Simon Sort of Says snaps together like the most satisfying jigsaw puzzle. This book is as close to everything as one book can be.—Kyle Lukoff, Newbery Honor–winning author of Too Bright to See

Bow delivers another middle-grade page turner. . . . Bow diffuses the story's serious topics, ranging from parental and social issues to mental and emotional health, with humor and a silly scheme. Middle-grade students will resonate with the worries and pressures attached to making friends and meeting one another’s families. A tale of healing that serves as an excellent reminder to never assume we know what plights another friend is going through.


Bow tackles really tough topics in this novel with grace and empathy while also threading in laugh-out-loud humor throughout.

Fast-paced and full of quirky characters, Simon Sort of Says presents a tragedy stitched up with humor, sensitivity, and rare humanity.—Jack Gantos, Newbery Award–winning author of Dead End in Norvelt

With an abundance of humor, vibrant characters, and a gentle approach to hard truths, Simon Sort of Says strikes a perfect balance of fun and meaning. A remarkable achievement.
Ali Benjamin, New York Times best-selling and National Book Award–nominated author of THE THING ABOU
Product Details
ISBN: 9781368082853
ISBN-10: 1368082858
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Publication Date: January 31st, 2023
Pages: 320
Language: English