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The World Is Made Up \Of A Lot Of Nobodies

Forever Young Adult presents a book review of Anteater Boy by Dean Ammerman

The World Is Made Up \Of A Lot Of Nobodies

BOOK REPORT for Anteater Boy by Dean Ammerman

Cover Story: '80s Throwback
BFF Charm: YAY!
Swoonworthy Scale: 3
Talky Talk: Blow By Blow
Bonus Factor: The Classroom, Cliff Huxtable Award of Awesome Parenthood, Loyal Pet
Relationship Status: I've Decided To Adopt!

Cover Story: '80s Throwback

This cover reminds me so much of the actual covers I had to choose from when I was a YA myself. It's to the point and shows the whole kid!!! What were they thinking?! Didn't they realize, the only way to show the whole kid is if he's floating in something? Seeing a cover like this just makes me madder at all of the sucky covers.

The Deal:

Zak likes to stay below the radar. His grades are average, he has just one friend -- Miles the genius -- his wiener dog Larry, his comics, and his old swashbuckler movies. In the animal kingdom, he's not a lion or a tiger -- he's more of an... anteater. And that's enough to keep him happy. Except it isn't. Because Zak wants a summer job, and his amphibian-like ex-dentist science teacher, Dr. Fletcher, has an opening. But while Fletcher keeps making Zak jump through hoops in attempt to get the job, a new girl arrives at school, and his history class gets a substitute teacher. All of these things together start a snowball effect in Zak's life that make being invisible harder and harder to manage, and has him asking himself who he is, and who he wants to be.

BFF Charm: YAY!

Zak is SUCH a good kid. He's the kind of kid that YA me would have LOVED to have as a BFF. I'd be there for him to tell him that he's not a zero, and to encourage him not to fear the bullies in his school, and to watch Zorro and throw pieces of popcorn to Larry.

Swoonworthy Scale: 3

Zak's relationship with the new girl, Mia, is very sweet and innocent and representative of a perfect first-crush. While there's no smooching, the two of them develop a very real and supportive friendship that is the perfect basis for high school sweethearts.

Talky Talk: Blow By Blow

Ammerman's third person writing style is fast and involving. His characters deal with bullying, racism, questioning authority and Doing What Is Right in a way that makes this book fun as an adult-who-likes-YA-read, even while almost teetering on the edge of after-school-special territory, but perfect for middle graders, especially boys.

Bonus Factor: The Classroom

The author uses Zak's classes as a platform to impart all kinds of information. From science to literature to my favorite subject: history. The substitute history teacher, Darius Brown, is the kind of teacher that might only exist in fiction. The kind who inspires his class not only to learn, but to think for themselves and speak without fear and ask themselves the kind of questions that can change their lives. And I LOVED every minute of it.

Bonus Factor: Cliff Huxtable Award of Awesome Parenthood

I loved Zak's parents. Not because they imparted the best wisdom or were the most understanding parents, but because they were realistic and fun. Whether they were worrying about Zak's grandma, -- who should get her own award, really -- sneaking an electrician in through the back yard so they wouldn't hurt the feelings of their neighbor across the street -- who had always insisted on helping them with their blown fuses, while he drank their beer and hung out for hours, and KIND of didn't do a good job -- or giving Zak the kind of distracted advice that encouraged him to make decisions that might have been ill-advised, they always TRIED to listen to and understand their son.

Bonus Factor: Loyal Pet

Larry!!!! The bladder-challenged, food-focused wiener dog made me smile every time he was on the page, with his understanding looks and little tail wags that made me want to rush home from school just so I could hang out with him.

Casting Call:

Evan Peters as Zak

Really, I should cast someone younger, but Evan was who I pictured the WHOLE time.

Relationship Status: I've Decided To Adopt!

I know, it's a big undertaking, and I never really thought I'd have kids. But when I met this book, I just knew. So surprise! I'm a parent!

FTC FULL DISCLOSURE: I received my review copy from Kabloona. I received neither money nor cocktails for this review (damnit!). Anteater Boy is available now.

Jenny Bird's photo About the Author: Jenny grew up on a steady diet of Piers Anthony, Isaac Asimov and Star Wars novels. She has now expanded her tastes to include television, movies, and YA fiction.
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