Here's hoping the week is treating you right.
Today, we're shining the REVIEW spotlight on a title currently touring with Walden Pond Press as we celebrate its recent BOOK BIRTHDAY! Exciting, right?! I certainly think so, I have to admit, I'm pretty sure you'll agree. It's penned by author John David Anderson, whose work I've featured right here on my site, and the book's are always memorable with a lesson to be gleaned, while still being relatable to its target audience (and beyond!) and entertaining to boot! Ready to discover your next must read? Ladies and gents, gather around as we explore between the pages of...
John David Anderson
Walden Pond Press
About the book...
From the beloved author of Posted comes the story of Zeke Stahls—a thoroughly average twelve-year-old who somehow finds himself in a competition to be named the World's Greatest Kid.
Zeke Stahls is not the best kid in the world. Some days he struggles just to be good. He'd rather be pulling pranks than doing extra credit, and he's too busy performing experiments on his little brother, Nate, or tormenting his older sister, Jackie, to volunteer for charity.
Which is why Zeke and his entire family are shocked when they receive word that he has been selected as a contestant in an online competition to find the World's Greatest Kid.
Zeke has no idea how he was chosen for this, and he knows that measuring up to the other nominees--a saintly lineup of selfless, charming and talented do-gooders with photogenic smiles and hearts of gold--is hopeless. Still, with a $10,000 cash prize on the line, and Zeke's mom struggling to hold the family together on her single-parent salary, he decides to give it his best shot.
As Zeke concocts various plots to show the world just how “great” he is, however, he finds himself wondering what that word even means, and who gets to decide. And what kind of kid he wants--and needs--to be.
I was as flabbergasted as Zeke in regards to him getting the nod as a contestant for being the GREATEST KID IN THE WORLD. No, I'm not being mean spirited, but the story sets you up with a reality check. Zeke isn't what one would consider a model for the role, and yet...and yet...all the sides we get to see of him, all the colors that make him who he is, all the moments that he gets to shine even when he isn't intending to...they all go into changing your mind rather rapidly about our little man. How much love he has for his family is phenomenal. The way he interacts with his kid brother is astounding. He could work on the communication with his big sister...but that relationship with cracks gets stronger as the competition heats up. When he shares the moment on the porch step with the cameraman (who, by the way, is way more than a side character!), my heart couldn't help but smile. When he sets up his final act for day four to impress everyone and guarantee himself the final votes, I couldn't help tearing up, it was that heartfelt of a moment. When all is said and done, the final vote comes in, and... *cue the dramatic music*
Despite the title, it's not a story about LITERALLY being the GREATEST in the world...more like the greatest in your corner of the world. It doesn't preach to readers about doing better, going bigger, or being completely selfless, but it DOES remind us just how much the little things, or at least the things we view as little, count...how far that ripple effect reaches, and the amount of good we can do, if only we put our hearts in it. It also gives us a great dose of reality in regards to our social media presence, and that not everything is always as it seems. That person with the perfect life...might have just spent an hour or more making that image or reel LOOK perfect...but the imperfections of life connect us just as much, if not more than, that which seems flawless.
A great read for kiddos just starting that transition to young teen, as well as readers beyond the target audience. It never hurts to be reminded that we're all human, part of the same "race", facing different struggles, and enjoying various triumphs. It's important to celebrate life as a whole, and take those moments, both good and bad, for what they are...learning experiences, and memories...because each of you out there reading this is the GREATEST to someone. It's a matter of putting ourselves out there and figuring out who that someone is.
About the author...
John David Anderson is the author of many highly acclaimed books for kids, including the New York Times Notable Book Ms. Bixby’s Last Day, Posted, Granted, One Last Shot, and Stowaway. A dedicated root beer connoisseur and chocolate fiend, he lives with his wonderful wife, two frawesome kids, and clumsy cat, Smudge, in Indianapolis, Indiana. You can visit him online at www.johndavidanderson.org.
Special thanks to Debbie and the Walden Pond Press team for the chance to bring this tour to you as well as the ARC for review. (THANKS!) For more information on this title, the author, or the publisher, feel free to click through the links provided above. This title is available now, so click on over to snag your copy today, and be sure to check out the rest of the tour for more bookish fun!
Until next time, remember...if it looks good, READ IT!