Thursday, May 04, 2006

Review: Stanford Wong Flunks Big-Time

It's a very quiet day in book news. Kaavyagate must have finally peaked and everyone is resting in relief.

In any case, I'd like to recommend a 2005 middle-grade title, Stanford Wong Flunks Big-Time, by Lisa Yee.

Stanford Wong's world turns upside-down in the summer between sixth and seventh grades. First, he's been named to the A-Team in basketball and is the only seventh grader chosen for this honor. But, there's a hitch. As he failed English, he'll have to pass summer school to be allowed to play in the fall. His parents are fighting, his grandmother is being relocated to a Home, and there's tension amongst his group of basketball-playing friends, the Roadrunners. To cap it all off, Millicent Min has been hired to tutor Stanford in English.

Stanford tells a number of lies to protect his reputation over the summer. He tells the Roadrunners, for example, he's working at his dad's office, rather than admit he's taking summer school because he flunked English. Wowed by Millicent's friend, Emily, Stanford tells Emily that he's actually tutoring Millicent. And, Millicent goes along with it because she doesn't want her new friend to know she's a genius and actually in high school instead of seventh grade.

Over the course of the novel, the truth has to come out and Stanford learns who he is in the process. The ending is a bit of a tear-jerker, but in a happy-ending kind of way. Stanford is a great character, fully realistic, but sweet. Highly recommended for the middle-grade crowd.