My Life as a Potato

Random. Mar. 2020. 272p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780593118665.
Gr 4-7–Seventh grade student Ben, new to his Idaho school, is punished when he caves to peer pressure and misbehaves: he must don a potato suit and entertain the masses at school basketball games as the school mascot Steve the Spud. Humor ensues when Ben decides to lie to everyone about being in the potato suit. Comical illustrations support the amusement. Despite the frequency of food-throwing incidents, strong moral messages abound: don’t lie, don’t judge others, and do right by those less popular than yourself. While more astute or mature readers will question the strong subtext that heteronormative romantic pairings are de rigueur for seventh graders, as well as the plot’s premise—just why does Ben feel the need to lie, again?—others will simply be swept up in the well-paced unfolding of the light-hearted plot. Almost the entire cast is white, upper middle class, heterosexual, cisgender, and supported by nuclear families comfortable in the suburban setting.
VERDICT This title doesn’t rock the boat; it’s light, predictable, easy to read, vaguely funny, and reminiscent of Lincoln Peirce’s “Big Nate” comics and Chris Grabenstein’s and James Patterson’s “I Funny” series.

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