Book Review: The Secret Sheriff of Sixth Grade

5 Jul

33931230.jpgI’ve enjoyed a number of Jordan Sonnenblick’s books in the past and he even visited our library for an author visit program, so I had high hopes for The Secret Sheriff of Sixth Grade, but honestly, this wasn’t my favorite story.

Maverick is starting sixth grade and this year he promises to himself that he’ll stand up to those being bullied, he’ll make the school a better place for everyone and he’ll be a hero just like his dad. Unfortunately, things don’t start off on the right foot and Maverick ends up in the Assistant Principal’s office twice and the nurse’s office once – on the first day of school.  And things just sort of fall apart from there. Maverick’s mom can’t hold down a job and when she gets fired, she starts drinking and on top of that she has an extremely poor taste in boyfriends who end up verbally and sometimes physically abusing her.

Although, domestic abuse is definitely something that should be discussed with kids, this book had one glaring issue that I can’t seem to get around. The bully of sixth grade bothers Maverick over and over again and like most bullies there is a lack of control at home which leads him to causing trouble at school. Maverick sees the bully get picked up by his father after detention one day and sees the father hit the boy.  And this is where my issue with the book comes in, nothing is done about this situation. Maverick doesn’t go to tell someone at school or his mom and the story is resolved for Maverick, but nothing is done about the abuse happening in another child’s home.

I would expect that a book that is being handed to middle grade students should express in some way that kids need to tell adults about suspected child abuse – it’s not something that should be kept secret because you really have no idea how long it’s been going on and how severe it is. I really liked the concept of the story – a kid trying to become a hero and stand up against the bully you know is in every school, but I just couldn’t get past this detail.

Twitter Booktalk (140 characters or less): Maverick is going to be a hero in 6th grade – there’s just one problem, he’s already been to the principal’s office twice – on the first day

Title: The Secret Sheriff of Sixth Grade
Author: Jordan Sonnenblick
Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: August 29, 2017
Page Number: 193 pgs.

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