School Library Journal
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Gr 4-8-A high spirited cast brings James Howe's energetic, sometimes hilarious book (Atheneum, 2001) about junior high school politics and nasty name calling to life. Young actor Spencer Murphy does an excellent job playing narrator Bobby Goodspeed, an overweight seventh grader who belongs to the Gang of Five, which (ironically) is made up of four not five kids who consider themselves misfits. The other "gang" members are the precocious and extremely tall Addie (played with effective Lisa Simpsonesque moral outrage by Maggie Lane), the Elvis look-alike Skeezie (the funny Andrew Pollack), and the effeminate Joe (a sensitive performance by Ryan Carlesco). The student council elections are coming up, and these students decide to run on the "No-Name Party," which promises to bring an end to all name calling in the school. The scene with the characters listing the various hateful names they have been called (everything from "fat boy" to "fairy" to "greaser" to "loser") is truly chilling. Thanks to Daniel Bostick's inventive direction of the actors, the presentation soars and entertains. There are many clever touches: an echo effect is used when Bobby has interior thoughts, and there are neat sound effects when characters speak on television or over PA systems. A clever music score, which mixes rockabilly with muzak, adds to the story's humor and energy. The entire cast, especially the aforementioned young actors as well as Bill Molesky as Bobby's world weary boss, does a fine job. An interesting interview with James Howe completes this first rate presentation.-Brian E. Wilson, Evanston Public Library, IL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.