Synopsis: Alex Frankovitch is a funny, funny kid. He’s got the class clown act down pat, and can’t stop the jokes– even in an essay contest for Kitty Fritters (which apparently taste like rubber). What he doesn’t have down pat is baseball. He’s won Most Improved Player six years running. (He knows this indicates he stinks.) There’s a kid in his class, TJ, whose brother plays for the Atlanta Braves. Apparently, this baseball gene runs in the family, and TJ’s a big show-off. Well, Alex runs his big mouth and gets into some conflicts with TJ. This includes a pitching contest, which Alex loses (of course). Finally, there’s a big game between TJ’s team and Alex’s. News crews, the entire school, etc. are there because it would potentially be TJ’s 125th consecutive win. Alex makes a fool out of himself, again. He shows up to school to see TJ signing autographs, etc. The principal makes an announcement near the end of the day about TJ’s record, and surprised Alex by announcing that he won the Kitty Fritters contest. The teacher then let the two stars give interviews.
This book is hysterical. The book opens with the essay to Kitty Fritters, saying that his cat eats Kitty Fritters because they’re cheap, even though his aunt thinks it tastes like rubber (but how would she know that)? Now, I can see Alex in my classroom, in my student DB in fifth grade and my students HW, DS, and JE in eighth. The previously mentioned had the tendency to blurt out whatever came to mind, and it was usually really funny. It both drove me crazy and made me laugh.
- The rivalry between TJ and Alex is pretty amusing, but TJ definitely has no sense of humor. Like, you know Alex is an idiot that can’t compare to your baseball skills. Why get bent out of shape? I realize Alex would be annoying as all get out. But the many times TJ tries to beat him up, you’d wonder if he’d be worth it.
- Brian, Alex’s sidekick, is really funny too. He is almost rolling with laughter when Alex tries to brag in front of TJ about his curveball. Alex also passes him a note to say something nice about him when the class is cheering about TJ winning the game. So, seriously, I was rolling myself when I read what Brian says:
“I think we’re also fortunate to have Alex in our class this year. If you ask me, it took a tremendous amount of courage to stand in front of a crowd of strangers and make a complete idiot of himself, like Alex did on Saturday.”
- Oh yeah, Alex apparently interfered with the game by yelling “Booga booga!” to someone trying to get him out. I can’t remember if it was TJ or someone else.
- The Frankovitches are really cool parents. They see through Alex’s BS, and make him do right. But they also know when Alex acted like an idiot to protect himself, so they leave him alone instead of lecturing him, despite the temptation to do so.
Grades: 3-5, maybe 6. I read this when I was subbing in a fourth grade class, was reminded of it in Kiddie Lit. It was recommended as a read-aloud, and I could totally see that. My only issue would be laughing too hard as I read it.
Grade: A. It’s short, it’s hysterical, it’s an underdog story. You don’t have to be a baseball fan to understand it. It’s perfect for reluctant boy readers.
PS Happy 8-9-10, Little Sister! LOVE you!!