Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Life and Times of Benny Alvarez by Peter Johnson: Book Review

Book received at no charge to facilitate my review
His little brother calls him Mr. Negativity, his mom tells him he is the "glass half full" kind of guy but Benny Alvarez likes to think of himself as a realist who sees all sides of things. Benny also likes to think of himself as a word connoisseur (con-nois-seur - noun: an expert in a particular subject). With the help of his two friends and his handy thesaurus, his prowess with words lands him the boys champion in a poetry contest against his adversary, Claudine.

While Benny's smart-aleck antics at school make him a character easy to relate to for any middle school reader, his relationships at home carry rich characters through a lukewarm plot. As Benny faces a grandfather who is slowly going senile, a wild younger brother, an overly optimistic mother, a father who has lost his job and a sister who he actually likes, he learns the meaning of love that can't be found on the pages of his thesaurus. With character development deep, the reader can't help but laugh and even cry as Benny extends the compassion he gains at home to his peers at school.
Rating:  Recommended to Highly Recommended ★✬ (4 1/2)

Publishing Information:
Publisher: Harper (June 24, 2014)
Pages: 224
ISBN: 978-0-06-221596-3
Ages: 11-14

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