Leon and the Spitting Image by Allen Kurzweil
Greenwillow Books, 2003.
Natalya (age nine and wondermous) and I (age almost-32 and …) found each other swapping books on Friday. She read 100 Cupboards by N.D. Wilson, and I read the book she had just finished, Allen Kurzweil’s Leon and the Spitting Image. She laughed her way through the book and said I must read it.
Leon and the Spitting Image really connected with my fourth grade daughter, trying herself to survive the school year. That Leon is not an every-comes-easily and is quirky may be where the connection is made. I would ask, but Natalya is aware I am fishing for a quote on my blog.
The story talks about spit, and bullies, and eyeballs, and sewing stitches, and wigs. The characters are bizarre enough to amuse, but not so eccentric you can’t find correlating figures in your own grade school experiences. Leon is the far more entertaining and likeable wimpy kid (I rarely find obliviousness comedic).
The suggested reading age is 8 and up. Unless the child reading it is 8 and in the fourth, you may not want to borrow trouble; especially if the child is anxious enough about entering the fourth grade; unless, of course, they are in a superior position to Leon… There is spit, dodgeball, and the engineering of a catapult out of legos–Kurzweil is obviously in touch with fourth graders and most men and women aged 18 and up.