A Review of Waylon! One Awesome Thing

What’s it about?

Waylon, 4th grader and scientist-in-training, has a lot of ideas for using science to improve life. In fact, he’s even saved up for his very own journal just to detail his awesome ideas. But… its kind of hard to concentrate on ideas and inventions when everything around him seems to be going wrong.

Arlo Brody is making all the boys in 4th grade divide up into two teams. Waylon doesn’t see the point. He wants to be friends with everyone. Then there’s the new kid, Baxter, who is more than a little bit intimidating. Plus his sister, Neon, seems to be drifting further away from him and his parents every day. He misses who she used to be before she started wearing all black and asking “What’s the point?” all the time.

Needless to say, its a stressful time to be Waylon. He’s not going to give up, though. All he needs is One Awesome Thing.

Book Cover for Waylon! One Awesome Thing by Sara Pennypacker

My Review of Waylon! One Awesome Thing

Waylon! One Awesome Thing has the mark of highest approval both from I and the mini-reviewer, Miss L. It is a very well-written book that tackles big issues for kids, addressing their need for individuality but the urge to also fit in, as well as the feelings of loneliness and sadness when things aren’t going right and everything seems beyond your control. I loved that it emphasized that it was okay to cry or to blush or experience feelings in general. That they are perfectly natural human expressions. I think boys need to hear that more often.

It also gives boys (and girls) a main character who isn’t nearly as interested in sports and rough-and-tumble activities as he is being a scientist and learning cool things. Waylon is the ‘different’ child that so many children can identify with in spirit, if not in actual detail. Baxter and Neon, too, are characters that project an air of being something they’re not , for various reasons. While Baxter is a bit of a trope, Neon/Charlotte reinforces that just because someone begins to act in different ways, they’re still the same person underneath.

Too often children’s books skim over the parental presence, and while the parents didn’t play a huge part in this book, they were definitely there. Their love for their kids, as well as their bewilderment at times, was well-communicated.

From problem to resolution, and all the steps in-between, Waylon! One Awesome Thing was a pleasure to read, and one of the better-written middle-grade stories our household has read in recent times.

5 Star Rating

Title: Waylon! One Awesome Thing | Author: Sara Pennypacker (site) | Publisher: Disney-Hyperion Books (site) | Pub. Date: 2016-4-5 | Pages: 208 | ISBN13: 9781484701522 | Genre: Children’s Fiction | Age Range: 8+ | Language: English | Triggers: None | Date Read: 2016-3-9 | Source: Received a copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.


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