Sonderbooks Book Reviews by Sondra Eklund

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*****= An all-time favorite
****  = Outstanding
***    = Above average
**     = Enjoyable
*        = Good, with reservations

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***Stanford Wong Flunks Big-Time

by Lisa Yee

Reviewed September 13, 2005.
Arthur A. Levine Books (Scholastic), New York, 2005.  296 pages.
Available at Sembach Library (J MCN F YEE).

Here is a second book by Lisa Yee, the author of award-winning Millicent Min, Girl Genius.  This isn’t a traditional sequel, but more of a “companion volume,” because it doesn’t tell what happens after the end of the previous book.  Instead, Stanford Wong Flunks Big-Time tells about the same summer as Millicent Min, Girl Genius—only this time we get the story from Stanford’s perspective.

Since I knew the basics of what would happen, I didn’t expect to enjoy this book as thoroughly as I did.  In fact, I found that my foreknowledge of trouble added to my anticipation.  It was fun to see things through Stanford’s eyes, as opposite a perspective from Millicent as possible.

The book begins at the end of Stanford’s sixth grade year.  He’s excited about summer, because he’s going to basketball camp.  Next year, he’s going to be the first seventh-grader ever to play on the A-Team.

Then he gets back a book report in English class.  He didn’t even read the book, and the teacher figured it out.  He got an F.  After class, he learns that he has failed English, which would mean that he failed sixth grade, which would mean that he would not be allowed to play sports.

There’s one solution, which Stanford’s father is quick to insist on.  Stanford cannot go to basketball camp.  He must take English during summer school, and he must pass.  Worse yet, his dad hires Millicent Min, the genius and hopeless nerd, to tutor him.

Stanford doesn’t want to tell his friends that he flunked English and might not get to play basketball next year.  When Millicent shows up with a charming friend named Emily, he doesn’t want her to think he’s stupid.  He tells Emily that he’s tutoring Millicent—but that’s a hard lie to maintain.

Meanwhile, his dad’s disappointed in him, his parents are fighting, his grandma’s moving to a retirement home, and he finds out that reading isn’t such a horrible activity after all, though of course it will never be as fun as basketball.

I like the way Lisa Yee gave us Stanford’s voice as effectively as she spoke in Millicent’s voice in the earlier book.  He’s a genuine Middle School boy.  I loved it when his friends made monkey noises, proving that they are so cool.

Stanford Wong Flunks Big-Time is a fun story of a tough summer for a normal boy, struggling with friends, girls, parents, studies, and simply trying to be cool.

Copyright © 2005 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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