Friday, May 12, 2023

Guy Friday- The Greatest Kid in the World

Anderson, John David.The Greatest Kid in the World
May 9, 2023 by Walden Pond Press
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Zeke lives with his college aged sister Jasmine, younger brother Nate, and hardworking, department store assistant manager mother in a typical suburban ranch. He misses his dad, and reads a box of postcards that his father has sent from the road often. It's a little hectic in the house, and Zeke adds to the frenetic energy by frequently doing ill advised pranks and getting in trouble at school or getting injured at home. When he gets a letter telling his mother that he is a finalist in a Greatest Kid in the World contest, he doesn't tell him mother because he assumes it is a joke. When Mr. Notts and cameraman Logan show up to film Zeke for the show, even his mother doesn't believe them. The Klein Agency for the Betterment of All Mankind, also known as KABAM? Sounds suspicious. But since there is a $10,000 prize and a trip to Hawaii for the winner, his mother is all in. There are four other finalists, and when Zeke looks up their videos about why they were chosen, his disbelief is further reinforced. They pack lunches for the homeless and help three legged puppies. How can he compete? It's summer, so Jasmine is in charge of the boys, and Zeke has to be filmed doing whatever it is that will make him the greatest. At first, Jasmine tries to organize games and activities with the boys that will make them all look good, but that doesn't seem to work. Zeke decides that maybe he should try a number of Guinness World Record Book activities, and maybe that will be the key, but that's not right either. When the KABAM organizers want to delve into the issue of Zeke's father, he knows that he has to come clean about his life. 
Strengths: This was a great portrait of modern day children in a family setting. The mother is very busy with work and doesn't cook as much; Jasmine makes a lot of macaroni and cheese. Zeke's behavior at school is, unfortunately, not uncommon, and I did like the surprise twist that made the behavior seem somewhat understandable. I also liked the fact that Zeke finally sees the effect that his behavior has on his mother and his family, and thinks about changing. There are lots of funny scenes, and the book is generally upbeat, although does include some sad things that I don't want to spoil. 
Weaknesses: I would have liked to know more about how Zeke ended up on KABAM's radar, given his complete lack of service related projects! Also, I kept thinking that KABAM was secretly full of space aliens or criminal masterminds, because I read a LOT of middle grade literature!
What I really think: This is a good choice for readers who like a mixture of humor and sadness, like Allbright's Milo Moss is Officially Unamazing, or Gephart's Death By Toilet Paper. 
 Ms. Yingling

1 comment:

  1. Oh Yeah, a new John David Anderson to read. This sounds like fun!