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

The Pudding Problem

The Pudding Problem

Spring 2017 Fiction
Ages: 8 - 12 yrs.
Author: Joe Berger
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 9781481470834
Hardcover Price: $13.99

Sam Lyttle has two problems—and despite the title of the book, neither of them is actually a problem with pudding. The first problem is that Sam lies. Everyone in Sam's life is aware of this (and annoyed by it) except Sam. Sam's second problem is that he has managed to antagonize the class bully, Pete Feeny, by rescuing a cat named Pudding from Pete's cat-torturing clutches (and then lying about it). With the help of his best friend Charlie and his magician grandfather, Sam must figure out a plan to save himself from being pulverized; and after that, he must figure out how to tell his family the truth.

Berger's fast-paced, antic novel for early readers mixes chapter-book prose with comic strip style. Both the storytelling and the artwork are quirkily expressive and witty. Sam is an entertaining, if unreliable narrator, who occasionally asks the reader to ponder just where the line between acceptable story-telling and magic-making ends, and lying begins. But for the most part, the novel is simply romping good fun.

Naomi Lesley   ©2017 Parents' Choice
Naomi Lesley taught middle and high school English for six years. She is currently in a doctoral program at the George Washington University, focusing on American young adult literature.

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