The Swag Is in the Socks

Crown. Nov. 2021. 240p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780593380864.
Gr 3-7–Xavier Moon, a 12-year-old boy living with his older sister and his great-aunt Kat while his parents are incarcerated, has big plans for seventh grade: He’s going to join the Scepter League, an elite leadership group for young men at his school. Just before the start of the school year, Xavier begins receiving strange mail from Frankie Bell, Kat’s brother who is a touring musician. Each package includes a pair of outlandish socks and a cryptic letter with advice. When the Scepter League rejects Xavier’s first bid to join, he does not give up; instead he leans on Frankie Bell’s advice—and the socks—and discovers some unexpected talents and leadership skills. Told in the first person in a conversational tone, the narrative is engaging right from the beginning, and readers will enjoy being introduced to Xavier’s family and friends. Although it deals with some tough topics—incarceration, severe illness, and managing a stutter—the story still has a lighthearted feel to it, owing mainly to Xavier’s authentic and optimistic voice. Xavier and his family are Black; other characters are cued as coming from a variety of backgrounds.
VERDICT Readers will enjoy this incredibly charming lead character, and they’ll root for him as he navigates the challenges of school and family life.

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