Dingus by Andrew Larsen

Dingus by Andrew Larsen, Kids Can Press, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-77138-661-6

Format:  hardcover

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a starred review) 4

Genre: realistic fiction

What did you like about the book? It’s the end of the school year, and the summer after fifth grade, and Henry has nothing to do. His best friend Max is going away to camp, and Henry has to stay home with his father and baby brother while his mom travels for her new job. In addition, Henry is confused because sometimes his friendship with Max feels like it always has, and at other times Max bullies Henry and makes fun of him in front of his new friends. The author does a good job capturing the uncertainty of changing friendships, and also the realities of a family struggling to live on a tight budget. Max’s family can afford camp, fancy sneakers, and many other luxuries while Henry’s dad buys him knock-off sneakers at the dollar store and he usually ends up with Max’s hand-me-downs. This adds an element of realism to the story, as does Henry’s relationship with his grandfather who lives nearby. When Henry finds himself caught in a lie, he has to make some difficult decisions to set things right. Readers should be easily able to identify with Henry and appreciate the growth of his character throughout the book.  

Anything you didn’t like about it? I wasn’t thrilled about the title of the book, but as the story progressed I saw how the term “dingus” (“better than being a doofus”) provides a mechanism for Henry and Max to settle some questions about their friendship, and for Henry to feel better about himself.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Read Alikes? Recommend to readers looking for family and friendship stories, particularly about boys and their dads or grandfathers.  Also recommend Liar and Spy by Rebecca Stead, Cooper and Packrat: Mystery on Pine Lake by Tamra Wight, and Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary.

Who should buy this book? Elementary schools, middle schools and public libraries should consider this title.

Where would you shelve it?  Middle-grade fiction

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?  No.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Renée Wheeler, Leominster Public Library, Leominster, MA

Date of review: March 22, 2017


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