Library ed. ISBN 978-0-399-55756-9 $19.99
Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-399-55755-2 $16.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-0-399-55757-6 $10.99
Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 3-6
Alec does not go anywhere—including to class—without a book, but that changes in sixth grade when Principal Vance threatens summer school if Alec’s reading obsession gets in the way of good grades. While Alec’s plan is to utilize the time he has in the Extended Day Program after school to soak up his stories in solitude, he learns that instead he must participate in an organized sports group or activity club. Disillusioned by his options—one of which is led by Alec’s biggest bully, Kent—Alec crafts an almost-foolproof solution: he starts his own club, and, to discourage membership, gives it a name he believes will deter any sensible peer from joining: The Losers Club. To his chagrin, interest grows and Alec begins to realize that having others around who adore books as much as he does—including Nina, the girl Alec just might like as more than a friend—may not be such a bad thing. Clements’ writing style, particularly his use of questions to make statements (“Some of the stories were scary, but letting himself look at Nina and think about her? That felt much scarier”), is engaging and it helps readers empathize with Alec and the other characters, both friend and supposed foe. An extensive amount of literature is referenced and compiled at the end of the text, from older classics such as Hinton’s The Outsiders to more recent gems such as Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming (BCCB 9/14), which serves as a valuable resource for young readers looking to independently explore high-quality literature. Clements’ text is an homage to the power of books, but it also reminds booklovers old and new that real life experiences—in all of their messiness—can be as exhilarating as those described in the cherished stories of beloved books.