Jack Strong Takes a Stand

illus. by Melissa Mendes. 240p. Roaring Brook. 2013. Tr $15.99. ISBN 978-1-59643-836-1.
Gr 4–6—Jack Strong feels like the most overscheduled middle schooler in the world. His parents, who want him to be prepared for college, have enrolled him in every enrichment activity possible, including cello, tutoring, karate, and Chinese lessons. One day, he decides to go on strike. He stages a sit-in on his couch and refuses to get up until his parents let him quit some of the extracurriculars. The local TV station takes an interest, which leads to protests and counter-protests outside his home. It also creates disruptions within his family, as his father opposes him, his grandmother staunchly supports him, and his mother tries to keep the peace. Jack is a thoroughly likable character with a wry sense of humor, and, as he narrates his story, readers will understand his frustration. Mendes's cartoon sketches are a good match for this funny and fast-moving tale. As the whole situation spirals out of control, Greenwald successfully melds plot and character surprises to engage youngsters and brings the story to an emotionally satisfying conclusion. Both avid and reluctant readers will enjoy meeting Jack Strong.—Carole Phillips, Greenacres Elementary School, Scarsdale, NY

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