DO BANANAS CHEW GUM? by Jamie Gilson

DO BANANAS CHEW GUM?

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Kids attracted by the wacky title will discover on page one that this is the story of a youngster with a learning disability: twelve-year-old narrator Sam Mott reads and writes on a second grade level. But the goings-on are wacky enough too, in a good-natured way, to keep the pages turning. Hoping to conceal his deficiency in a new town, Sam snags a job as a babysitter (""Me, Dumbhead Sam, a job""), and then can't read the note that nice, flaky Mrs. Glass leaves him; can't write down the name of his orthodontist for newly-employed, self-improving Mrs. G.; can't read aloud to her boys. So she catches on pretty quickly; but by that time she also knows that he isn't dumb. Somewhat more of a stock character is super-bright, showoff classmate Alicia; but after Sam tells her--during a mad search through the lunchroom garbage for a friend's (dental) retainer--why the other kids don't like her, she's all for him, non-reader or not. Still another supporter appears in the person of buoyant young archaeologist Brenda: Sam, who's been a junk collector, is now turned onto collecting potsherds and such. So, what with pressure from Mrs. G. (else he'll lose the job), the encouragement of Alicia's no-strings liking, and the incentive of really wanting to read, Sam accedes to still another set of tests--and the competent, tactful learning-disabilities teacher helps him understand what's wrong and how he can remedy it. (The titular question is one of a mixed lot she throws at him to see--as Sam recognizes--""if I could understand what I hear."") Sam's an appealing nerd; nobody treats his problem like a disaster; and the light, topical touch (especially the orthodonture bit) makes it all very easy to take.

Pub Date: Sept. 22nd, 1980
ISBN: 0812404092
Publisher: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard