It isn’t easy being nine years old or, for that matter, being the new kid at school. But that’s what Carson Blum is, and he’s bound to make the best of it.

Moving from Pasadena to Northern California, Carson (along with his single dad, Nick) goes from being a big fish in a small Montessori pond to a “nobody” in a public elementary school. And what a school it is—complete with a cast of characters pulled straight out of an after-school special. First there’s his silly detective-hat-wearing teacher. Then there’s Wes Walker—the class “bother” who tells whopper lies no one ever believes.

Still, there are some things that make his transition worthwhile—like Mr. Lipman’s “Star Jar,” a demolition derby, a rapidly reproducing pet rat (Mr./Mrs. Nibblenose) and Carson’s easygoing, Porsche-driving dad. And there are plenty of nice-enough kids to make his everyday life—and his birthday party—worth all the trouble.

With cleverly drawn personalities—true to the fickle lives of elementary schoolers—the characters of Mavis Jukes’ The New Kid are readily relatable to young readers. And anyone who has ever been the new kid at school, or felt like the odd man out, will be entertained by Carson and the motley crew at Valley Oak School.

 

Sharon Verbeten is a children's librarian and freelance writer who lives in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

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