Friday, January 13, 2012

Review: Zeke Meeks vs. the Putrid Puppet Pals by D.L. Green (ARC)

Zeke Meeks vs. the Putrid Puppet Pals. by D.L. Green. February 1, 2012. Picture Window Books. 128 pages. ISBN: 9781404868038.

Zeke Meeks vs. the Putrid Puppet Pals is the story of a childhood toy fad and how it affects the one boy in class who is just not into it. The puppet pals - like real-life Beanie Babies, Furbies, and Silly Bandz - have taken over Zeke’s class. The puppets aren’t particularly interesting, but some of them are supposedly collectible, and all the kids Zeke knows, including his best friend, have gone totally crazy buying, trading and playing with them. Zeke finds it more and more difficult to find friends to play with at recess, and he finds himself faced with two options - either embrace the fad he so despises, or find a way to put a stop to it.

I thought the idea of a toy fad was the perfect subject for a chapter book. All kids can relate to these crazes, which seem to come around every couple of years, and I’m sure not all of them fall instantly in love, even if their friends are obsessed with the latest big thing. This book is published by Capstone, which is known for publishing high interest books that appeal to reluctant readers, and Zeke Meeks vs. the Putrid Puppet Pals definitely fits that bill. The design of the book, and its many illustrations and embellishments make it look a lot like the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, but the reading level makes it more appropriate for the slightly younger audiences, of second-, third-, and fourth-graders who might not be ready to read Wimpy Kid just yet.

I loved the way the author depicted Zeke’s hatred for the puppets, but also occasionally allowed him to covet the puppets as well, out of a desire to fit in and to have playmates again. I thought the psychology of that was really interesting, and it made Zeke so much more real and relatable. My only complaint is that, out of nowhere, toward the end of the book, Zeke references the book itself as though he is aware he is in a story. I found that distracting, and it sort of took away from the realism of the rest of the story, which never breaks the fourth wall in any way.

All in all, though, this is a clever, funny, and timely tale that will appeal to boys or girls. The way the story ends doesn’t necessarily indicate that Zeke’s friends have learned anything from their Puppet Pals experience, but the entire story raises important questions about materialism and the way certain products are marketed to kids.

Recommend this book to kids you know who have enjoyed Big Nate, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Amelia Rules, and Alvin Ho. Zeke Meeks vs. the Putrid Puppet Pals will be published February 1, 2012.

I received a digital ARC of Zeke Meeks vs. the Putrid Puppet Pals from Capstone via NetGalley.

For more about this book, visit Goodreads and Worldcat.

NOTE ADDED 10/26/12: This book was nominated for the 2012 Cybils Awards in the Easy Reader/Early Chapter Book category. I am a first-round panelist in this category, but this review reflects my opinions only, not those of any other panelist, or the panel as a whole. Thanks! 

8 comments :

  1. Nice! I'm always looking for more readalikes for Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Big Nate! Obviously need this for my collection.

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    1. Books like this are definitely in high demand right now. It's always nice to have a back-up when all the Wimpy Kids and Big Nates are checked out!

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  2. This sounds terrific! I'm on the hunt for some good middle-grade fiction and I think this might fill the bill! Thanks for the recommendation.

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  3. Sounds like a good book. I know a couple kids who are into the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books so I will keep this book in mind when recommending books.

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    1. I think it will definitely appeal to your Wimpy Kid fans. :-)

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  4. Morning, Katy! My favorite thing about Poetry Friday is finding new "friends" on line. Have spent the past 30 minutes perusing your blog. I am a fourth grade teacher and I'm always looking for books for my WIMPY KID, BIG NATE lovers. Zeke Meeks sounds like one I definitely will have to purchase! Also loved your themed Thursday on Entrepreneurship. What a great collection! I will definitely be back.

    s; when I started teaching, he had a little fold out book called WHERE'S WILLIAM, that was one of the first books I ever purchased, and my students read it to death! Have loved many of his other books, but had not found DEAR HOT DOG until it ended up on the CYBILS list (I was a first round judge). You definitely picked a winner in DEAR HOT DOG. I have loved Mordecai Gerstein for many, many year Thanks again for stopping by my blog!

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    1. Thanks, Carol! I'm glad you like the blog, and Dear Hot Dog!

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