Readers who prefer an easier-to-read option to the Wimpy Kid series will find Zeke Meeks’ comic responses to the tribulations of life as a third grader amusingly familiar.
Silly Bands are a thing of the past for Zeke and his buddies. Fueled by relentless television commercials, a new craze has infiltrated his school: Puppet Pals. Puppet Pals are collectible finger puppets, complete with their own paraphernalia, which keep Zeke’s friends busy during class, on the playground or after school. Zeke is left to play with—shudder—the kissing girls at recess because everyone is busy with puppets. Hilarious first-person narration gets the details of third-grade life right: the illogic of fads, the power of trend setters and the lengths some kids will go to belong. This chronicle of the arc of a grade-school obsession is funny, and readers will laugh when thinking about the trends that are undoubtedly racing through their schools. Brief paragraphs, familiar, humorous situations and frequent cartoon illustrations make this especially easy to read and will lead to laugh-out-loud moments for second- and third-grade readers. Short, choppy sentences and an excess of silly will put this in the same category as Captain Underpants: painful for teachers and parents to listen to, but this book is not for them.
Zeke has a good chance at becoming a popular fad for new readers. (Fiction. 7-10)