Saturday, October 12, 2019

The Tornado

Burt, Jake. The Tornado.
October 1st 2019 by Feiwel & Friends
E ARC from Edelweiss Plus

Bell Kirby is an expert at surviving school. His nemesis, Parker Hellickson, not only holds a grudge for a past trangression, but is the principal's son, so has systematically tortured Bell for years without consequence. Bell knows how to avoid Parker, so when a new girl, Daelynn, arrives and throws off his system, he is worried that Parker will start to give him a hard time again. Bell tries to avoid Daelynn, but he is also intrigued by her fearlessness at expressing her true self. Bell, in addition to being bullied by Parker, has many interests that put him in the "geek/nerd"category, and is very conscious of this, as is his supportive mother who has had to face off with the principal about Parker's behavior. When Mr. Randolph launches a Creator Contest that involves recreating one of daVinci's designs using only technology that would have been available during his time, Bell and his friends Timmy and Tam end up with a tank. With the help of his mother, who has welding equipment and a lot of engineering know how, and with encouragement by text from his father who is stationed in Germany, Bell's projects goes pretty well. Parker, however, is still a inescapable force in his life. While Daelynn becomes his new target, and Bell actually gets involved in Parker's float for a parade, it's still a very uneasy truce, and one which Bell is not able to feel good about.
Strengths: I loved the message that "if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem". Bell does not wish Daelynn ill, but he is so desperate to escape Parker's notice that he's willing to let her be the target instead. The fact that he is able to hang out with Parker was interesting as well, and his mother's reluctance was great! The engineering/STEM focus of the Creator Club was very fun as well, and the description of Cincinnati chili took me back to living in that city.
Weaknesses: Purely personal: my father was a principal, and I can't imagine any principal (like Barnett's Principal Barkin from The Terrible Two) letting a child get away with bullying. If anything, a principal's child is less likely to get away with things, but that doesn't make for a good story. Also, I am very wary of books that encourage middle grade readers to be themselves. Daelynn should be able to have colored hair and expressive clothes, but the reality is that other children are not always nice to people who are different. This should not be, but it is.
What I really think: I loved Burt's Right Hook of Devin Velma and Greetings From Witness Protection, but this one struck me as a bit more elementary school oriented, so I am debating.
Ms. Yingling

No comments:

Post a Comment