2007's Buckeye Children's Book Award winner for grades 3-5 was Stink: The Incredible Shrinking Kid by Megan McDonald and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds.
Stink: The Incredible Shrinking Kid is the first book in the Stink series, but is a spin-off of the popular Judy Moody series (Judy is Stink's sister, or as Judy puts it, Stink is her "bother"). Stink (real name James) keeps having his sister measure him and is frustrated by his lack of growth. He tries different ways to make himself appear taller, such as spiking his hair, until one day Judy measures him and -- ack! Can it be? Did Stink actually shrink? Stink also has to deal with taking care of the class pet, writing a paper on President's Day, and his mean older sister! Will he be able to get confidence in himself and truly be able to stand tall?
The larger-than-typical text and pictures and comics throughout make this book ideal for younger readers, and many kids will relate to Stink's troubles, particularly if they have siblings. There is a nice correlation Stink makes about not being tall like popular President Lincoln, but being more like President Madison (the shortest president ever). In his comics that he draws, he imagines himself with superpowers and winning the day -- and what kid has never dreamed the same?
It's always fun for me when chapter books have pictures, and Peter H. Reynolds (of The Dot fame, among many others) is an excellent choice. His way of drawing Stink's comic strips are, of course, humorous, but also easy to read and follow along with. The style actually reminds me a little bit of the old 90's Nickelodeon cartoon Doug. Reynolds is a master of using simple shapes and shading to create wonderful emotion and eye catching detail -- perfect for young readers.
I've seen many kids (particularly boys) who start reading the Stink books and then begin wanting to read Judy Moody. I love it when books influence kids to read similar books! Granted, these are all a part of the same series, essentially, but I like how Stink gets the boys interested in what they previously thought was a "girl book" because it has a main female character. Many do say they like Stink the best, though.
It's interesting that no Judy Moody book had won the Buckeye Children's Book Award, although to be fair it did have stiff competition. I think what might have driven more to vote for this book was the inclusion of Stink's personal comic strips about his life. As we will see in next year's winner, comic strips in chapter books are about to become VERY popular!
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