Saturday, April 25, 2009
Review - SLOB by Ellen Potter
Philomel Books (Penguin Young Readers)
From: Advance Uncorrected Galley
First, just take a look at that cover. What comes to mind? Looking at the cover, you think you know what this book is about, but you don't.
"A three-story red-brick nightmare of educational progress." (p.2)
That's how Owen Birnbaum introduces us to school, his school at least. At Owen's school students can determine their own "educational progress" by studying whatever floats their boat at the moment.
Being the smartest kid in the school, and now the fattest, brings problems for Owen, even at such a progressive school. Someone has been stealing his Oreos and his PE teacher, Mr. Wooly, is determined to humiliate him. Owen wasn't always fat and he wishes he could go back to the moment that changed everything for him. Owen believes that his latest invention will allow him to do just that, if he can get it to work!
Using the note with the word SLOB written on it as inspiration, Owen works to uncover the cookie thief and find the missing piece to his invention. With the help of his sister, Jeremy, he has almost figured out how to uncover exactly what happened that night almost 2 years ago.
Ellen Potter is genius. I was totally captivated by the language in this book. It was funny without being stupid. "It made me feel squirrelly in my stomach. But maybe I was just hungry." (p. 29) I think this book will appeal to both boys and girls at our school and will use it for book club in the fall. It's a great middle grade read with potential as a good read-aloud. The references to old TV shows will also appeal to teachers/librarians who may have watched those shows growing up. Jeremy's participation in Girls Who Are Boys, GAWB, will resonate with the tomboys. And Mr. Wooly? I had a teacher just like that and, unfortunately, some of them still exist today. Students will see that. They will get it. It will be a great discussion. I can't wait! I give it 5 stars.