by Tommy Greenwald
Roaring Brook Press
236 pages, Illustrated
Book Review by Kam Williams
“Extracurriculars are ruining Jack Strong’s life. His parents have overscheduled his week with every afterschool activity you can think of, all on top of regular seventh-grade homework. They want him to be well-rounded and ready for college.
Finally… Jack decides he’s had enough. No more cello recitals. No more tennis matches and baseball games… Jack vows to sit on his couch until his parents let him quit some of his extracurriculars.”
— Excerpted from the inside book jacket
Do you ever feel sorry for the children of this generation, since their lives are so structured from morning to night that they barely have any time to relax or freedom to explore? They seem to go from school to sporting events to music practice to tutoring sessions to volunteering to homework to play dates to birthday parties, etcetera, without enough downtime to process what they’re experiencing.
And when you factor in the further distraction of incessant text messaging, email and cell phone calls, no wonder so many of them suffer from Attention-Deficit Disorder. If you know any such unfortunate youths a bit overwhelmed by the demands of modern life, they’re likely to find a kindred soul in the young protagonist of Jack Strong Takes a Stand.
Intermittently illustrated with pleasant drawings by Melissa Mendes, this pro-adolescent adventure, designed with 4th to 6th grade readers in mind, chronicles the rebellion of a junior high student who has grown tired of being told what to do 24/7. So, he goes on strike and replaces his regular routine with watching TV and doing yoga with his grandma.
However, after attracting media coverage, Jack becomes something of a cause célèbre, and the stressful situation lands Nana in the hospital. Fortunately, not only does she recover by the end of the book, but Jack and his folks arrive at a manageable compromise lightening the lad’s daily load.
A timely cautionary tale with a valuable message worthy of consideration by parents and kids alike.
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