Philbrick, W. R. (1993). Freak the Mighty. New York, N.Y: Scholastic Inc.

Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick

Interest Level
Grades 6 – 8
Reading Level
Grade level Equivalent: 6.3
Realistic Fiction

Max is an overly large 12 year old boy living with his grandparents, Gram and Grim. At 4 years old, we learn, he witnessed his father, of whom he is a spitting image, strangle his mother to death. His father has been in the Penitentiary for the last 8 years. Max is very slow of brain and large of body. Kevin is a disabled boy next door. Kevin has a condition where his insides keep growing although his bones do not. Separately, Max is an oversized dullard and Kevin is a pint sized genius. Together, with Kevin on Max’s shoulders, they are Freak the Mighty. They go on noble quests. Kevin creates a love of learning in Max. Max’s large body gives Kevin a physical freedom he has never had.

I read this book because my son read it in 6th grade as a class assignment and hated it. When he saw me reading it he yelled, “Put it down!! Do NOT read that book!” More than a year later, he is still upset about the dad, the mom, and the unfairness of killing off such an amazing character that he really liked. He says it’s like reading a book where the author makes you fall in love with a puppy. They always kill off the puppy. The conversation turned to authors. What kind of sick person writes things that scar young children? Whereas adults may see this book as a way to introduce diversity, loss, and anti-bullying, kids see it as twisting innocent emotions by adults for sport.

What do you think?