Barbara Park is well known for her Junie B. Jones series, but this reviewer was not familiar with her Skinnybones character, Alex Frankovitch or “Skinnybones” for short. Alex’s classmate, Annabelle, doesn’t like Alex very much and Alex thinks Annabelle is stuck up because her dad has a show called The Uncle Happy Show. Alex is delighted when his contest entry provides him the opportunity to make a cat commercial in the big city of New York. Alex gets a little ahead of himself, believing he is an instant star that can command autographs, limousines, and star-crazed fans. Instead, the commercial makes him look like an infantile fool. Alex believes his now famous role commands him the starring role in the school play. Things do not turn out as Alex hopes and he is faced with several challenges that test who he really is beyond stardom.
Almost Starring Skinnybones is written for ages eight to twelve, and kids in this age range will gravitate to the humor that Park is famous for in her Junie B. Jones books. Chapters are fairly short, word choice is appropriate, and kids will feel right at home with the school setting in the book. Even with the humor, kids will learn a few lessons about friendship, doing the right thing, and being grounded in reality. Skinnybones will be another character that kids will connect to and certainly follow as he meanders through the tween years.
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