Sunday, August 18, 2019

Last Meeting of the Gorilla Club

Nickerson, Sara. Last Meeting of the Gorilla Club
August 27th 2019 by Dutton Books for Young Readers
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Josh's family has moved from Chicago for a new start, and Josh is starting at Mountain View K-8 school. His first day doesn't go particularly well, partly because of the return of his imaginary friend, Big Brother, whom his parents had him bury in a funeral ceremony when they thought he was too old. Josh has seen a lot of imaginary people (including a woman in the old school library who gives him a book), and his mother in particular is very concerned. Fifth grade at his new school is not too bad otherwise; his teacher, Mr. K., is lots of fun, but it is hard to make new friends, and Josh tends to keep to himself. There is another student, Lucas, who also sees people who aren't really there. His best friend, Moxie, died when they were in first grade, but he keeps seeing her at school, and she talks to him. After Mr. K. shows a video to the class and asks the students to count the basketballs, Josh and Lucas are the only ones to see the unusual occurrence, and Josh also sees Moxie. The two boys are invited to a meeting of the Gorilla Club by Moxie, and go to the home where she died, which is supposedly haunted. Another tragedy almost occurs, but the boys survive and the fact that they have each been able to make an actual friend bodes well for their future.
Strengths: This had a very realistic school setting, and it was interesting to see a story about a character who moves who doesn't move directly into a haunted house. Yes, there are "haunted" areas, but this is a twist. Josh and Lucas are both engaging characters, and the school is a fun setting.
Weaknesses: I was hugely bothered by the author's use of the word Kleenex when tissue should have been used. I remember reading about using trademarked names in Writer's Digest years ago.
What I really think: The cover made it seemed like this would be a funny book, but it was really more of a story about anxiety and grief. I will probably pass on purchase since I am having trouble thinking of students who might want this. If the ghosts had been scarier, that would have helped.

Ms. Yingling

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