Erik vs. Everything

Clarion. Aug. 2021. 288p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780358126713.
Gr 3-7–Fourth grader Erik Sheepflattener comes from a big, tough, and very brave family rooted in Viking traditions. Erik does not fit in physically or characteristically with his family; as a matter of fact, he is afraid of almost everything. Erik fears school, piano lessons, baseball practice, and squirrels—he is even afraid to talk about his fears. Erik would rather stay home and read his comic books rather than try anything that could cause him embarrassment or harm. This all changes when Erik and his sisters visit extended family in Minnesota to help with toddler triplets. Erik reluctantly joins the Lake Park All-Stars Mountain Bike Team and begins training for a race down Bonebreaker Hill. With the help of his sister Brunhilde and her library copy of The Art of War, Erik learns that facing fears can help make the scary things a bit less scary. Readers follow Erik as he learns the skills he needs to fall down and not get hurt. This story has a fun cast of characters, all with their own strengths and personality quirks. The book chapters all begin with familiar proverbs that stem from Norse and Danish traditions, and are explained at the end of the story in the “Sources for Quotations” section. This story takes family lore and traditions and blends them with modern tips and tricks to tackle life. It is a fun, uplifting, and often laugh-out-loud story. Erik’s family is cued as white.
VERDICT A great addition to any elementary and even middle school library with a lesson on determination, taking risks, and family values.

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