May 6th 2014 by HMH Books for Young Readers
Tucker is getting used to his father living in Boston, and is disappointed that his epic win in the contest for H2O's sidekick isn't getting him more attention. He also has to contend with the evil Wesley, who snatches a helmet Tucker's younger brother, Beecher, wants right out of Beecher's hands at the sporting goods store. When Wesley then offers it as a prize for the school's epic dodge ball contest, Tucker knows he needs to win. That's not the only bit of injustice in Tucker's world-- the Art Club is in danger of losing their bulletin board to the girls' basketball team. They need to amass 15 members to secure their group's status, and since they are down to 9, Tucker comes up with a plan. He manages to coerce the principal into agreeing to have a pep assembly featuring the art club, and they have a fantastic AV supported performance art extravaganza... until the principal pulls the plug and moves on to sports teams. Tucker decides to post a Beanboy comic detailing the struggles of the club, and is surprised to find it copied and posted in the halls. The art club also forms a dodge ball team, and gets excellent advice on strategies from their coach. Will the group be able to get enough members to avoid extinction? And can Tucker get revenge on Wesley?
Strengths: Harkrader has a decided knack for middle grade boys' voice. Her Airball: My Life in Briefs is still one of my favorite basketball books. She manages to take situations, like the art club heading for extinction, and treats them in realistic ways. Tucker has challenges at home (Beecher is in special education classes and Tucker is often responsible for him; the family struggles financially), but believes strongly in the power of art to reach students who don't fit in in other areas. The dodge ball tips and stratgey were actually very interesting, and I always HATED dodge ball! The comic book connection is nice, although there are not enough pictures to qualify this as a true "notebook novel". I bought this one BEFORE I read it-- that's how much faith I had in Harkrader!
Weaknesses: Had trouble believing that the principal would concede and let the Art Club have a pep assembly, but other than that, I thought the school details were more accurate than in many titles!
It's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday at Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe and What Are You Reading? day at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers.