LEXI AND THE SOCK MONSTER

An 8-year-old girl deals with the trials and tribulations of growing up in this debut book, the first in an anticipated series.

To say that Lexi Blender is having a difficult week may be the understatement of the year. She’s dealing with Kyle, a school bully who teases her at every opportunity, a grouchy substitute teacher named Mrs. Butters who has an unwarranted vendetta against her and a disagreeable cafeteria milk lady who refuses to give her a break at lunchtime. As if that isn’t enough, Lexi’s father recently remarried and she’s adjusting to being part of a newly blended family. Despite everything that’s being thrown at her, however, Lexi manages to handle the pressure beautifully, even utilizing Principal Giles’ thoughtful suggestions for dealing with her anger. But when Lexi’s parents’ warnings go unheeded and they continue to find her socks strewn around the house, Lexi is punished by not being allowed to attend cheerleading tryouts. Disappointed and frustrated that nobody believes that she’s innocent, Lexi is determined to get to the bottom of the sock debacle. And as she does just that, she learns that sometimes it’s the people who continuously disappoint you who ultimately come through in the end. Shainoff’s book provides the young reader with a candid look at how painful growing up can really be—especially when you’re disregarded simply because you’re a kid. From navigating the complicated politics of elementary school, to a genuine look at the difficulties a merged family faces, Shainoff covers many of the troubles a modern-day kid encounters. While some may find the ubiquitous grammatical errors troubling and the character development lacking, other readers will find it easy to overlook these minor flaws thanks to the endearing, likable Lexi. Short and simple, this book serves as a charming reprieve from the real-life difficulties of growing up. In a world chock-full of unsuitable subject matter, parents will appreciate the appropriate storylines of this book, and kids will enjoy spending time with Lexi.

 

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2010

ISBN: 978-1453837955

Page Count: 55

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2012

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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Ordinary kids in an extraordinary setting: still a recipe for bright achievements and belly laughs.

WAYSIDE SCHOOL BENEATH THE CLOUD OF DOOM

Rejoice! 25 years later, Wayside School is still in session, and the children in Mrs. Jewls’ 30th-floor classroom haven’t changed a bit.

The surreal yet oddly educational nature of their misadventures hasn’t either. There are out-and-out rib ticklers, such as a spelling lesson featuring made-up words and a determined class effort to collect 1 million nail clippings. Additionally, mean queen Kathy steps through a mirror that turns her weirdly nice and she discovers that she likes it, a four-way friendship survives a dumpster dive after lost homework, and Mrs. Jewls makes sure that a long-threatened “Ultimate Test” allows every student to show off a special talent. Episodic though the 30 new chapters are, there are continuing elements that bind them—even to previous outings, such as the note to an elusive teacher Calvin has been carrying since Sideways Stories From Wayside School (1978) and finally delivers. Add to that plenty of deadpan dialogue (“Arithmetic makes my brain numb,” complains Dameon. “That’s why they’re called ‘numb-ers,’ ” explains D.J.) and a wild storm from the titular cloud that shuffles the school’s contents “like a deck of cards,” and Sachar once again dishes up a confection as scrambled and delicious as lunch lady Miss Mush’s improvised “Rainbow Stew.” Diversity is primarily conveyed in the illustrations.

Ordinary kids in an extraordinary setting: still a recipe for bright achievements and belly laughs. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-296538-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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