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



Fall 2017 Fiction
Ages: 10 - 14 yrs.
Author: Pete Hautman
Publisher: Candlewick Press
ISBN: 9780763690700
Hardcover Price: $16.99

David feels like a typical middle child; his older sister Bridgette gets straight A's and lets everyone know it, and his younger brother Mal is autistic and needs extra attention (even if his mother refuses to use the A-word label). Between the two of them, they pretty much take up all the space in their parents' world, leaving David as the one who's just, well, there. But there is one thing at which David excels: competitive eating. David can put away a whole pepperoni pizza in four minutes and thirty-six seconds. And after he accidentally puts a two thousand dollar charge on his mother's credit card, he is going to need that skill. David needs to win the Super Pigorino Bowl pizza contest, both to pay his mother back before she kills him and also to prove that he can be the best at something. As he trains for the event and takes care of his brother, he begins to learn that there might be other things he's good at doing.

Pete Hautman's novel depends upon the humor and sweetness of David's narrative voice. David convincingly alternates between disgusting descriptions of his gustatory achievements, stunning failures of self-awareness, and equally striking moments of insight, love, and kindness, especially as he devotes more time to figuring out the rules of his little brother's world. While the overarching plot rests on whether or not David will win the final eating contest, much of the novel is actually concerned with his relationships with parents, friends, and siblings, and with his attempts to find his place in the world.

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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