Slob by Ellen Potter

Genre: Realistic Fiction
Interest Level: Grades 6 – 8
Reading Level: 5.5

Owen Birnbaum at 12 years old is 5 foot 2 and 157 pounds. To make matters worse, he is starting a new school, his sister has started calling herself “Jeremy” and dressing like a boy, and, oh, yeah, he witnessed his parents being shot to death only two years before. Owen’s classmates make fun of him being fat, calling him Flapjack and farting when he comes near. But no one is more terrorizing than Mr. Wooly, the gym teacher. At one time, he puts Owen in a dog harness in front of the class and makes him do summersaults. Owen begins to believe that he can use an invention to capture the radio waves as they bounce back from an unknown star to see a replay of his parents’ murder and capture the suspect. In the meantime, his cookies are missing.

At first, I thought, oh great, another fat boy gets teased book. But by page 2 I was laughing out loud at the witty comebacks that Owen thinks inwardly while outwardly saying something lame. Then, I was afraid that his parents died in 9/11, since their new ‘mom’ is a dispatcher for New York Police. As we learn more about how Owen and Jeremy use different techniques to deal with their parents’ death, we become sympathetic to Owen and his plight. It is actually a wonder that he is as well-adjusted as he is after what he has been through. There are a few fun twists and turns at the end that we don’t see coming. Slob is fun and witty. 6th through 8th graders will enjoy this book.

Potter, E. (2009). Slob. New York: Philomel Books.