The Double Life of Danny Day

Feiwel & Friends. Jun. 2021. 320p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781250770998.
Gr 4-6–Through a quirk of fate, Danny lives every day twice. Once as a regular day like everyone else and once as a “discard” day, when he can do anything he wants without consequences. A typical 12-year-old, he spends his “discard” days cutting school and playing video games. That changes when Danny starts a new school in a new town and meets classmate Zak, self-confident and respected by his peers. Zak’s integrity leads Danny to wonder if there is something better he can do with his unique gift. Danny finds his purpose when he vows to take down a video game cheating ring, led by another student who uses the game to steal money from players. Danny’s first-person narrative engages readers with wisecracking humor and sharp observations on the middle school social stratum. Danny is cued as white. Zak, whose parents hail from Ghana and Japan, provides the mentoring guidance Danny’s parents do not. They are portrayed as loving but preoccupied and a bit clueless: Danny’s father doesn’t believe he’s into video games and his mother thinks he has “playdates” with friends. Gamers will relish Thayer’s extended play-by-play accounts of the kids’ video battles and strategies. A good group discussion point is the difference between how Zak and Danny handle bullies: Zak stands up to them, Danny plots to get even.
VERDICT Perfect for gamers who’d rather play than read, Thayer speaks their language and scores a direct hit.

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