Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Book Review: Stink: The Incredible Shrinking Kid

A Preamble

I'm one of those moms who never censors what my children read. Occasionally I'll wince when a certain book comes home, but I truly believe any reading is good reading. Sure, my 12-year-old mixes Dickens and Wilkie Collins with some of the lamest YA I've run across. I won't lie. But she's a reader, and that's what's important. (She reads great YA too, don't get me wrong. She's reading Libba Bray's latest now.)

My newly-minted-7-year-old just checked out his first chapter book. He's gone from 0 to 60 in the reading department this year and he was so proud of his first selection: A Pokemon book. Did I wince? Absolutely. Am I thrilled to write down each chapter on his reading sheet for school? You bet I am. This is a day to be celebrated.

That being said, I've been browsing the library and the bookstore for youngish chapter books I think he'd like. Megan McDonald's Stink: The Incredible Shrinking Kid caught my attention right away. Now on to the review:

Stink: The Incredible Shrinking Kid #1
by Megan McDonald, illustrations by Peter H. Reynolds

Stink is short. He's the shortest kid in his class, and the shortest kid in his family. But being short is the least of his problems. The biggest? His big sister is none other than Judy Moody and she happily reminds poor Stink that he's short.*

"Bad news," said Judy.
"What?" asked Stink.
"You're shorter than you were this morning. One quarter inch shorter!"

Poor Stink. It's difficult to be reminded of your short-comings on a daily basis, but he's an optimistic kid with a ton of energy. Stink loves school and participates wholeheartedly in taking care of the class pet (a painful chapter), in Presidents' Day activities, and in doing his homework. I loved the chapters concerning Stink's Presidents' Day homework assignments, assignments he devotes to his favorite President, James Madison. Stink's first name is also James, and James Madison was only 5 feet 4 inches tall.

McDonald writes in a winning easy-to-read style; her prose is contemporary, lively, and full of good humor. Peter H. Reynolds illustrates the Stink books both with friendly pencil drawings of Stink, his family, and his class and with Stink's wonderful comics. (Stink's comic strips are genius. They are both straightforward and nonsensical in the way only children's stories can be.)

Stink: The Incredible Shrinking Kid is highly recommended for the new independent readers of the world.
*My kids are Judy and Stink. The Stink books are for all the younger brothers of the world.