Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

The Loser List

The Loser List

Spring 2011 Fiction
Ages: 8 - 12 yrs.
Author: H.N. Kowitt
Publisher: Scholastic
ISBN: 978-0545240048
Hardcover Price: $9.99

H.N. Kowitt knows how to tell a fun story. 12-year-old Danny Shine is a budding artist and comics aficionado prone to bullies of both sexes and saddled with a hopeless crush on Asia O’Neill. Danny has everything a 7th-grade protagonist should: a brainy sidekick (Jasper), an under-appreciated talent (art), a cool hangout (Comix Nation), and a flaw that undoes him (desire to be popular). His story begins when he lands on the Loser List, a humiliating display in the end stall of the girls’ bathroom. He’s listed as “geek.”

For many geek protagonists, the promise of popularity is their heroic flaw. In a comedy of errors catalyzed by the Loser List, Danny winds up in detention with school-bully Axl Ryan and his cronies, Boris and Spike. Axl has a beef with Danny, and he’s almost certain to get pummeled until his artistic skills bail him out. Danny can draw awesome ink tattoos, a skill that gives him cachet. Axl takes Danny under his wing, but this step toward popularity comes at a price.

The pitfalls, terrors and slapstick comedy of 7th-grade are all here – dim-witted teachers, snitches and food fights to name a few. Kowitt puts enough obstacles in the book to keep the plot suspenseful, and the ending wraps up nicely. Our hero is flawed but his heart is in the right place and good triumphs over evil.

The Loser List is written in journal format, which is very entertaining. The drawings and doodles, at-a-glance character descriptions, and bulleted lists all add to this appealing and engaging read.

Teresa DiFalco   ©2011 Parents' Choice
Teresa DiFalco is an award-winning ghostwriter, writer, and mother in Vancouver, Washington. She's been a contributing editor for Parents' Choice for over ten years. She's a strong speller, a menace at badminton, and makes a decent soufflé.

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