Zack Delacruz #1: Me and My Big Mouth by Jeff Anderson
Sterling Children’s, 2015
Well, this was a refreshing change for middle grade fiction. Lots of diverse characters here, and a protagonist with a name that clearly places him away from the standard that is too typical in much of what publishers push on readers. So yay, Zack!
And importantly, this isn’t about a boy or others being bullied due to their race or culture. Instead it’s about what every kid faces. It’s a universal theme that happens to have many non-white characters inside, all of whom are real kids. So another cheer for Zack!
The one issue noted is that, while the book promotes respect for everyone, it actually doesn’t follow that line. The teachers, the adults, are the ones who come under fire, and some of the comments are cruel.
So where is the respect there? Does bullying only apply to kids? If you’re in the corporate culture or you’re not white and you walk down the street, you know that bullies are alive and well in the adult world, too. So the ideology doesn’t track entirely.
Still, a great read with plenty of fun for kids.
Parents and teachers who would like to read up on wisdom that can help them guide their kids should check out Seven Sisters: Spiritual Messages from Aboriginal Australia with advice that is as relevant today as it was centuries ago!
And readers who want to understand more about diversity in the publishing industry can check out Writing While Female or Black or Gay.
I was provided with a review copy by the publisher.