“Every library that serves Wimpy Kid fans should have the Aldo Zelnick series on its shelves,” says Washington DC children’s librarian.Posted: March 6, 2012
In today’s post on her exceptionally erudite (and enjoyable) children’s book review blog, Secrets & Sharing Soda, children’s librarian Katie had this to say about Dumbstruck:
“I was very skeptical of this book when I started reading it, because I couldn’t imagine incorporating so many new vocabulary words into a fictional story without making it obvious that the author is trying to teach the reader their definitions. Karla Oceanak completely pulls it off, however. The words she uses are so carefully chosen, they fit seamlessly into the plot, even when they are marked with the asterisk that signals readers to look up the definition in The Gallery. Even more impressive are the ways she manages to work the letter D into the story outside of the words defined by the text. The deaf student in the story is named Danny, for example, a fact that I didn’t even pick up on until almost the end. The book is just so educational, not only in the area of vocabulary, but in the arts, sports, sign language, deaf culture, and even in romance. I think some books try to incorporate gimmicks like this to trick kids into learning, but Dumbstruck doesn’t shy away from the educational aspect at all. Rather, it makes learning all these different things into a form of entertainment that kids will be drawn to without being tricked.
“The characters – including adults – are well-developed and believable, and Aldo especially is a very appealing protagonist whose problems and concerns are common to fifth grade boys. These books are very much like the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, but they have a gentler touch, and suit a slightly younger audience. They also share similar characteristics with the Origami Yoda books, and with the Big Nate series. Every library that serves Wimpy Kid fans (which, honestly, is every library, period) should have the Aldo Zelnick series on its shelves. I’m really surprised I haven’t heard more about them before, and I look forward to the rest of their journey through the alphabet.”
Thanks for the thoughtful review, Katie! (By the by, author Karla Oceanak will be signing copies of Dumbstruck next week at the Public Librarian’s conference in Philadelphia. If you’ll be there, stop by and see her on Friday, March 16th from 9:30-10:45 at the Independent Publishers Group booth!)