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Calli Be Gold

Calli Be Gold

Observant but quiet fifth grader Calli Gold doesn't seem to fit in with her loud, rushing family. Calli is the youngest child in a funny, endearing yet somewhat misguided suburban family that places high importance on achievement. Calli's older brother Alex is a basketball star and her sister Becca is on a synchronized skating team, but 11-year old Calli thinks she's a failure because she's flopped at everything she's tried.

In the Gold family, everyone needs to be "golden" and that means winning medals and placing first. But Calli is different. She likes to watch the world around her, and think about things. Plus she's not so sure she wants to be a star...inside, she feels content with who she is—an average fifth grade kid. But how to get that point across to her dad, who thinks his kids have to "do" something special in order to "be" somebody.

Calli's dad signs her up for an acting class, hoping this will be it for his daughter and she'll find her talent at last. But when Calli meets second grader Noah Zullo through a peer helper program at school, she begins to discover what her true passion might be...and it has nothing to do with acting, or for that matter, kicking a soccer ball or doing pliés or flipping on a balance beam. Noah has some issues and Calli is drawn toward helping him and understanding what makes him tick.

As the story unfolds, Calli, in her own quiet way, prompts her family to consider what achievement really means. CALLI BE GOLD is a heartwarming story about standing up for who you are and finding your own rightful place within a family.

Check out the discussion questions

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  • 2015-2016 Maud Hart Lovelace Book Award nominee, Minnesota Youth Reading Awards
  • Bluestem Book Award nominee, 2014 (Illinois Readers' Choice Award)
  • Bank Street College of Education 2012 Best Books of the Year listing, with a star for outstanding merit


"It's hard not to fall in love with 11-year old Calli Gold, who is forced into the role of quiet observer in her very busy, boisterous, and achievement-oriented family. The pressures of modern family life come through loud and clear in Hurwitz's debut novel, which should speak to children who, like Calli, know what it's like to be a normal, even average, member of a family that values success above all else."
   —Publishers Weekly

Calli Be Gold

"This is a well-done first novel that clearly presents a young girl struggling to figure out just who she is and how she fits in her family. Readers will sympathize (and possibly identify) with Calli, and Hurwitz also does a good job revealing the adults' motivations."
   —School Library Journal

"(In) Hurwitz's engaging debut, (she) nicely conveys the sense that it's OK for reserved Calli to be loud sometimes—with outbursts she didn't plan and behavior she didn't expect—and that families can be enriched by their younger members' ideas."

"Calli's often-insightful first-person narration provides a thoughtful, child-eyed view look at how adults too often try to find success through their children's achievements. The sometimes over-the-top depiction of stage parents pokes gentle but oh-so-true fun at them, adding to the appeal of this amusing debut."
   —Kirkus Reviews

"Hurwitz offers a sympathetic and perceptive portrait not just of Calli but of the whole Gold family, skillfully enriching the picture so that what looks initially like a family of shallow success-chasers turns out to be a group of people trying to make life meaningful and eventually realizing that their usual method doesn't always work. Kids who are themselves feeling overshadowed by the more traditionally gifted will particularly applaud Calli's finding herself and achieving a new role in her family."
   —The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

"Such a great read. Kids are going to really be able to relate to Calli. Your writing is so honest and the relationship between Noah and Calli is wonderful."
   —Stacy B. Lipshutz, teacher, Meridian School


With the deafening commotion, people crammed into their seats, Dad shooting imaginary steam from his ears, and Mom woo-wooing, all under the glaring overhead lights of the high school gym, for some reason, the only thing I can think about is that little kid at the rink, Noah Zullo, lying quiet and still and alone in his zipped-up jacket under the broken hockey-foosball table.

I wonder who he is and why he was at the rink. I wonder if he's still there, under the table, or if someone found him and took him home. Then I wonder why I'm wondering so much about him...

Discussion Questions for Calli Be Gold

  1. Why do you think the book is called Calli Be Gold?
  2. Why did Calli like Noah?
  3. How did Calli and Noah's friendship help both of them?
  4. Why wasn't Becca honest with Dad about what was going on with skating?
  5. If you were Calli, do you think you would have the courage to stand up for yourself?
  6. Why did Noah run away from the Friendship Fair?
  7. Do you think Dad was wrong to want his kids to find their "talent?" Why do you think he wanted them to be successful in their activities?
  8. Do you know any families like the Golds? Do you think kids feel pressure to be the best?
  9. What did Grandma Gold say to Noah when he was hiding that made him want to go back to the Friendship Fair? Do you think that's true?
  10. How do you think everyone changed through the story? Calli? Noah? Becca? Dad?

Wendy Lamb Books/Random House, hardcover, April 2011
Yearling, paperback, April 2012