Vail, Rachel. Justin Case: Shells, Smells and the Horrible Flip-Flops of Doom.
8 May 2012, Feiwel and Friends
Nominated for the Cybils by ntalan
Justin is back, and is finding the summer even more challenging than third grade. He's not going to a science camp this year-- he's going to a regular camp for kids who like to run around. He has to change to swim, wear flip flops, and eat in the mess hall. He also gets involved with some of the other boys in a game of "knuckles", which results in his own always being in a painful state. His parents are proud of him for trying new things, but when they find our about "knuckles", offer to take him out and put him in science camp instead. Justin decides to stay at the camp and try to get along, participating in color war and overcoming his various fears.
Strengths: I absolutely adore Rachel Vail's teen novels. They are excellent. This had its funny moments, and younger elementary students will like Justin and the pictures. This is great for fans of Alvin Ho or Mason Dixon. Ms. O liked it much more than I did.
Weaknesses: Since Surly Teen Boy spent most of his elementary years closing the toilet lid with his feet, washing his hands until they bled, eating mainly granola bars and bananas because he could eat without touching the food, covering his ears in the grocery store because the music was too loud, and being taught to make eye contact with other people, I don't find documentable dysfunction as funny as most people would. All I could think was "Shouldn't Justin be evaluated?" I'm a little unsure of the audience for this. Will "normal" kids want to read about a kid who has such problems? Would they laugh at him? I know that this would not have appealed to Surly Teen Boy. I was glad to see that Justin was trying to overcome his various fears-- who knows? Maybe in a few years he'll be in the Philippines, holding crocodiles without the benefit of hand sanitizer!