I’m very pleased today to be part of the blog tour for John David Anderson’s latest book, THE GREATEST KID IN THE WORLD. It’s a story for all the prankster kids with good hearts hidden somewhere inside.
The Greatest Kid
in the World
by John David Anderson
Walden Pond Press, 2023
Review copy kindly provided by the publisher.
About the Book
From the beloved author of Posted comes the story of Zeke Stahls—a thoroughly average twelve-year-old who somehow finds himself in a competition to be named the World’s Greatest Kid.
Zeke Stahls is not the best kid in the world. Some days he struggles just to be good. He’d rather be pulling pranks than doing extra credit, and he’s too busy performing experiments on his little brother, Nate, or tormenting his older sister, Jackie, to volunteer for charity.
Which is why Zeke and his entire family are shocked when they receive word that he has been selected as a contestant in an online competition to find the World’s Greatest Kid.
Zeke has no idea how he was chosen for this, and he knows that measuring up to the other nominees–a saintly lineup of selfless, charming and talented do-gooders with photogenic smiles and hearts of gold–is hopeless. Still, with a $10,000 cash prize on the line, and Zeke’s mom struggling to hold the family together on her single-parent salary, he decides to give it his best shot.
As Zeke concocts various plots to show the world just how “great” he is, however, he finds himself wondering what that word even means, and who gets to decide. And what kind of kid he wants–and needs–to be.
About the Author
John David Anderson is the author of many highly acclaimed books for kids, including the New York Times Notable Book Ms. Bixby’s Last Day, Posted, Granted, One Last Shot, and Stowaway. A dedicated root beer connoisseur and chocolate fiend, he lives with his wonderful wife, two frawesome kids, and clumsy cat, Smudge, in Indianapolis, Indiana. You can visit him online at www.johndavidanderson.org.
This book, dear readers! It started out getting me laughing from the very beginning, as Zeke pulls pranks and remembers pranks from the past, things like convincing all the boys in his class to declare freedom from underwear in class. But though it’s never said outright, Zeke read very clearly to me as classic ADHD – so intelligent and so drained by boredom that he simply has to keep coming up with ways to entertain himself and his classmates. The public class clown face also has the typical-for-ADHD private face, one that knows he’s a disappointment to his teacher and to his mother and is exquisitely sensitive to that rejection even as he tries to downplay it. He knows that everyone around him will think that him being nominated as the best kid in the world is a joke, and he’s honestly not one to disagree.
This isn’t the only factor giving Zeke a sense of inadequacy in the contest, though. His mother, working long retail hours, has neither the time to take him to volunteer places nor the money to enroll him in exciting activities that might garner him more votes. It takes privilege that Zeke doesn’t have to do those things, and while he didn’t mind being a normal kid before, it’s a lot harder when he’s being showcased against a roster of talented young philanthropists. Though we never get to know the other contenders, Zeke does get to understand his mother, reclusive teen sister, and younger brother all much better over the course of the book. Even the videographer sent to record him has things to share with and to learn from Zeke.
The combination of these topics could be played either exclusively for laughs with caricatured people, or as a tearjerker of a novel best read only by those whose favorite genre is sad. Instead, in typical John David Anderson style, the two sides balance each other out perfectly, real characters with lots and laugh-out-loud moments, and some that made me tear up. This is one that will resonate with many, many readers.
Blog Tour Stops
|May 9||Nerdy Book Club||@nerdybookclub|
|May 9||Unleashing Readers||@unleashreaders|
|May 10||Teachers Who Read||@teachers_read|
|May 11||Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers||@grgenius|
|May 13||Maria’s Melange||@mariaselke|
|May 16||A Library Mama||@alibrarymama|
|May 30||A Foodie Bibliophile in Wanderlust||@bethshaum|