Friday, September 28, 2012

Zigzag Kids: Big Whopper by Patricia Reilly Giff, illustrated by Alasdair Bright

This story felt so...outdated to me, that I looked up the publication date to see if it was a reprint. Nope, new series starting in 2009. Well.

This is the second title in the Zigzag Kids, a group of multicultural kids who attend an after school center. In this story, Destiny Washington is worried that she can't think of anything to put on the big sheet of paper in the hallway for discoveries. She's being annoyed by stuck-up Gina and says the first thing that comes into her head. Unfortunately, it's a lie.

After several days of misery, Destiny finally admits her lie when it sounds like Gina is about to tell on her. The two decide they really do have something in common after all and become friends somewhat.

Why this felt outdated to me: First, I don't know any schools that run an after school center, especially with the amount of activities discussed here. That could just be my school district, however. However, the kids' reactions and behavior felt stereotyped and predictable. Destiny's heart-burning over her little fib, her determination to be the kind of good kid that Zigzag center expects...meh, it just didn't work for me.

Even more annoying, this is supposed to be a multicultural series. Fair enough, there are a variety of multicultural characters. But did you notice they're all, yup, friends of the central characters, who are, of course, white. I checked back in the series list to see who else was featured and it looks like...
1. Number One Kid is about Mitchell McCabe - white
2. Big Whopper - Destiny Washington is white
3. Flying Feet - Charlie, white again
4. Star Time - Gina, in the character listing at the front of the book her skin looks a little tanned, but on the cover of her book she's very white
5. Bears Beware - Mitchell again. Although his "best friend" is Habib. Go Habib.
6. Super Surprise - Destiny's turn again
7. Charlie again

Now, I didn't read all these titles, but going on the descriptions it sounds like there's really only four main characters, all white kids. The "multicultural" kids shown in the cast pictures are just there for show. Either make your cast all white, or stop relegating kids of color to supporting roles. I'm not going to pass this anymore, especially in a lack-luster series like this one. I also found two typos, which are a huge bad in a beginning chapter series.

Verdict: The cover proclaims that this is by a two-time Newbery honor winning author, but she wins no awards in my library for this series. Not recommended.

ISBN: 9780385746885; Published 2010 by Wendy Lamb/Random House; Borrowed from the library

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