Monday, January 12, 2015

‘Kickin’ Lenny Saves the Day’ (Book Review)

Lenny opened one eye and looked around his room. He saw something in red pajamas rush by his bed. Was it…? It was!

“Spider-Manny!” Lenny yelled, as his little brother jumped on top of him. The tall stack of peanut butter sandwiches that Manny was carrying came tumbling down on them. They were a sticky mess!
This is how Kickin’ Lenny Saves the Day (MTS Publications, 2014) should’ve started. But it didn’t. Instead, readers are treated to a tedious narrative complete with pseudo-adult dialogue and unrealistic family dynamics. They deserve better: Something exciting. Something that will inspire a love of reading.

What is Book #1 in the Kickin’ Lenny series about? We have a workable premise: A kid’s first week of school that involves an embarrassing kickball incident and a run-in with fourth-grade bullies. The author Michael Stubben, however, is too nice to his hero. The embarrassment subsides quickly. No black eyes are involved. The hero sheds no tears, and it never even occurs to him to lock himself in his bedroom to pout. The ending is the worst. It only teaches kids that violence solves everything, and that 3 and 5-year-olds are a match for 9-year olds. (Maybe that’s so in their dreams when they’re Spiderman, but most definitely not in real life!)

I wish I could say something nice about Kickin’ Lenny Saves the Day, but I really can’t. The book is neither interesting nor age appropriate. What 6 to 9-year-old with a 3rd-grade reading level is going to want to read a book about a kindergartener? And what 4 to 5-year-old is going to sit through a book without pictures? To make it worse, Stubben seems unable to follow the basic structure of any novel: conflict, climax, and resolution.

You might think I’m being unfairly harsh, but I think the author needs a reality check. Kickin’ Lenny Saves the Day is not about to become the next big thing in children’s literature. Instead, it’s destined to sit untouched and unloved for many years to come.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author through LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program. I was not required to write a favorable review.