I’ve read a couple of James Patterson’s middle grade books with a hit and miss record. My 5th grade son, on the other hand, has really enjoyed them. He got to Public School Superhero before I did, and he loved it. When I got to it, I loved it too!
In a time when kidlit aficionados are crying out that #WeNeedDiverseBooks, this is a great book featuring an inner-city chess-playing, African American “Grandma’s Boy” (but don’t call him that to his face!) who has an imaginary alter-ego superhero. Not only is he a great mirror for kids in a similar situation, but I think he’s an amazing window, showing what it’s really like to go to a school whose funding keeps getting cut, who doesn’t have money for textbooks or support staff.
Kenny is a good student. His grandmother is pretty tough on him, which has earned him the Grandma’s Boy nickname. He doesn’t know why people are so tough on him. He tries to stay below the radar, but keeps getting targeted.
When Kenny gets in trouble at lunch one time, the new principal with unconventional ideas tells Kenny that he has to teach Ray Ray chess after school. The same Ray Ray who steals his lunch and after-school snack! It turns out that Ray Ray enjoys learning chess and also has something to offer Kenny in exchange: confidence.
by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts
Illustrated by Cory Thomas
In stores March 16, 2015
About the Book:
In this story about a good kid with a great imagination struggling in a less-than-ideal world, James Patterson brings his bestselling “Middle School”-style humor and sensibility to an urban setting.
Kenny Wright is a kid with a secret identity. In his mind, he’s Stainlezz Steel, super-powered defender of the weak. In reality, he’s a chess club devotee known as a “Grandma’s Boy,” a label that makes him an easy target for bullies. Kenny wants to bring a little more Steel to the real world, but the question is: can he recognize his own true strength before peer pressure forces him to make the worst choice of his life?
James Patterson’s newest illustrated novel is a genuinely funny yet poignant look at middle school in a challenging urban setting, where a kid’s life can depend on the everyday decisions he makes.