Alec is a fourth grade boy who lives in a troubled but loving family. His mother is torn between family and pursuing her dream, his father struggles with employment and playing Mr. Mom while his wife is away, his big brother bullies him, and his grandmother sometimes says things she shouldn't. When his father gets a new job as principal at Alec's school, Alec is mortified and doesn't know how he will survive the school year. On top of that his peers can't seem to get over his past bullying, which makes staying out of trouble more difficult than ever. Amidst all his problems, he tends to isolate himself at the expense of his friends, who only want to help. Alec must learn to be a team player, but how can he with everything working against him?
The main thing that sets this series apart (and another series for girls I will be reviewing in a few weeks), is that in addition to the story, the books introduce vocabulary words in context, and offer fun activities at the end of each chapter to practice them. There are also other educational helps throughout the book. For example, Alec helps his brother study math, and his explanations and tips will likely help young readers understand their math as well. It 's also illustrated that good study habits are important and will always be rewarded one way or another.
What I appreciate most about this book is the multi-faceted characterization of adults. Most children's books seem to paint adults as two dimensional Stepford figures, or even eliminate them altogether. The Moores' adults have problems and dreams and personalities, and do the best they can with what they've got to work with.
Even though this book was geared toward young boys, I found it enjoyable. I want to know what will happen next, if Alec's mother will be able to follow her dream and what that will mean to her family, and how Alec's personal growth will effect him and those around him.
I received a copy of this book for the purpose of review.