Great Reads for Teens and Tweens!

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Hank Zipzer: Niagara Falls, or Does It? by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver

Title: Hank Zipzer: Niagara Falls, or Does It?

Author: Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap      Year: 2003

ISBN-13: 978-0448431628

Genre: Fiction

Age: 7 and up

Awards: Beehive Children’s Fictional Book Award,  Black-Eyed Susan Book Award,  Maud Hart Lovelace Award,  Wyoming Indian Paintbrush Book Award

Themes / Subjects: Elementary school, school & education, learning disabilities, humor, friendships, social issues – special needs, juvenile fiction

Plot Summary:

For Hank Zipzer, fourth grade is not the fresh start he thought it’d be. On his first day back to school he is called to the principal’s office where he is scolded for being late to school. When he returns back to class things get even worse when Mrs. Adolf assigns the class a five paragraph essay on “What You Did This Summer” and tells Hank he will be the first to present his essay. Five paragraphs?! Hank can hardly write one good sentence, how is he going to write five paragraphs? Instead of writing what he did last summer, Hank decides to use his “creativity” to present a living essay. Naturally it begins well and ends as a disaster landing Hank in detention which strangely enough may end up changing his life.

My Take:

Is Hank Zipzer really the world’s greatest underachiever? I think not. Hank Zipzer is absolutely an amazingly awesome character and one whom I greatly admire. Everyone learns differently and it’s a little heartbreaking to read that people (especially his parents) think Hank is lazy or dumb just because he does things differently. In fact, he is a creative genius and has a knack for remembering interesting facts. He just has difficulty translating his knowledge to boring assignments. It uses silly, irreverent, classroom humor to tell the story of a young boy who enlists the aid of his classmates to keep him out of trouble. This is one book in a series of similar stories, and promises good reading for kids of all ages.

I know the age is 7 and up and this is a teen/tween page, so why include this book? Because it is that awesome! The lessons in this book can be applied to all ages and should be read by all ages. Don’t let the fact that Hank is an elementary kid scare you off, take my word for it, it’s a great read.

Neat fact: Henry Winkler is dyslexic and his stories are about a kid with a learning disability. See any similarities? Hmm…

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Similar read: Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key by Jack Gantos … Like Hank Zipzer, Joey Pigza the main character of this series has a learning disabilities and struggles with his desire to behave and his impulses.