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Almost Zero
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Almost Zero: a Dyamonde Daniel Book
(Book 3 in the Dyamond Daniel series)
illustrated by R. Gregory Christie
Putnam, 2010
ISBN 978-0399251771

About the Book

Dyamonde really wants red high-top sneakers. Too bad they're so expensive! A classmate tells her it's her mom's job to give her what she needs, but when Dyamonde tries that argument, her mom teaches her a lesson by literally only giving her what she needs. Now Dyamonde is down to almost zero outfits! But then she finds out one of her friends has it much worse, and she's determined to do what she can to help.

In this third book in the Dyamonde Daniel series, Nikki Grimes tackles big issues in a sensitive, kid-friendly way. Dymonde’s can-do attitude and lively spirit will endear her to readers.

You'll enjoy the other books in the series:
Make Way for Dyamonde Daniel (Book 1)
Rich: a Dyamonde Daniel Book
(Book 2)
Halfway to Perfect: a Dyamonde Daniel Book
(Book 4)

Awards and Honors

Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Books for 2010
Horace Mann Upstanders Book Award, Antioch University, 2011
We are the People: 2016 Summer Reading List


“Everything we have is a gift,” or at least that’s what Dyamonde’s mom says. It takes a while for Dyamonde to appreciate this truth, but, when she does, she helps others to understand it as well. When classmate Tameeka shows up with expensive sneakers, Dyamonde takes her friend’s advice and demands red sneakers for herself. Mrs. Daniel, after a moment of soft, scary speaking, decides that her daughter needs to learn a lesson about want versus need and packs away almost all of Dyamonde’s clothes, forcing her to wear the same outfit to school, even when it gets dirty. When her classmate’s house burns down, Dyamonde realizes the lesson her mother is trying to teach her and organizes a clothing drive for her friend. Third in a series, this chapter book continues to introduce interesting secondary characters to keep Dyamonde’s young fans engaged. Christie’s modern black-and-white illustrations are perfect for the urban setting. Dyamonde’s readers will enjoy seeing a strong, smart African-American girl face the same challenges they do. A treasure. —Kirkus Reviews

Outspoken third-grader Dyamonde Daniel has returned for another interesting adventure, this one involving an agonizing lesson about true needs. When stylish Tameeka showed up at school in a fabulous new pair of pink high-tops, Dyamonde told her mother that she absolutely had to have the same pair in red. Mom had different ideas though, and she emptied almost all the contents of Dyamonde's closet to help her better distinguish between wants and needs. This lesson was further reinforced for Dyamonde when a serious fire left a classmate's family with virtually nothing except the clothes on their backs.

Award-winning author Nikki Grimes has built on the Dyamonde Daniel series with another book that weaves together engaging characters, a unique story, and a powerful lesson. This short novel provides a good opportunity to talk with children about wants and needs, one of the first economics concepts to which young learners are exposed in elementary school. Dyamonde Daniel is a very real and likeable character; young readers are bound to eagerly anticipate her next learning experience. —Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children

Dyamonde's mother's voice goes "scary-soft" when Dyamonde demands that her mother buy her the high-top sneakers she "needs." Sure enough, when Dyamonde comes home from school the next day, all of her clothes have disappeared, and her mother calmly explains that if it's her job to give Dyamonde everything she needs, then Dyamonde only really needs one set of clothes. But when a classmate's home is destroyed in a fire, Dyamonde comes to realize the distinction between wanting and needing as she organizes a clothing drive to help out. The family and friend dynamics are pitch perfect, and Grimes portrays third-grader Dyamonde with a very realistic balance of self-confidence and self-doubt as she adjusts to new ideas. This is the third in a series, but it can be read independently, and it's an honest yet funny look at life in families where money is an ongoing issue. —Susan Dove Lempke, The Horn Book

An enjoyable story with a good life lesson. When spunky Dyamonde makes an ill-advised attempt to boss her mother into buying her a pair of red high-top sneakers, her mother decides to provide her with only what she needs: literally the clothes on her back, spiriting away the rest of her wardrobe. Dyamonde fumes over the humiliation of wearing the same outfit, stains included, several days in a row. A classmate’s tragedy shakes her out of her funk, and she rises to the occasion, asking her mother to return the rest of her clothing so she can give much of it to the girl, whose family has lost everything in a fire. Her individual effort grows into a school-wide clothing drive, and Dyamonde receives a much greater gift than a pair of high tops: the fulfillment of giving to others. The moral of the story is delivered in an endearing, accessible package. Grimes’s style is easygoing and straightforward, her characters real and engaging. Christie’s sketches in thick lines of black ink add to the book’s appeal.–Alyson Low, Fayetteville Public Library, AR, School Library Journal

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