Open the cover of Slob by Ellen Potter and the first sentence says “Twelve-year-old Owen Birnbaum is the fattest kid in school.”
When I first picked this book up, I was really hopeful that it wasn’t a typical fat kid book with lots of cruel jokes, cookies, and magical weight loss at the end that solves all his problems. And Potter didn’t disappoint.
There are cookies (obvious on the cover), and there are cruel incidents but it mostly comes from adults and not kids, and while there is some weight loss, Owen’s problems don’t magically go away. Those, unfortunately, can’t all be fixed.
Owen’s IQ is off the charts so besides being picked on for being obese, he’s got brains too…and more reasons to be made fun of. And when the reader finally understands the extent of Owen’s pain, you completely understand how he came to be this way. How he is punishing himself for something a little kid should never have to deal with.
Slob was a good, quick read. I’m suggesting it to my students this week and I know they’ll be a mad dash to borrow it. That’s one of the fun parts of my job: getting to read books and share them with students. It’s kind of like the book club I’ve always wanted to join, but without the intellectual conversation because no one else has read the book yet. Although that comes later and it’s always just as thrilling.
Maybe eventually, I’ll find some time to do this with adults and adult books. Wouldn’t that be fun?