Arthur believes that he is destined to become a famously rich novelist. The first step in his journey to literary greatness will be winning the school writing contest, which will also (hopefully) distract him from the untimely death of his mother. Unfortunately, Arthur can't come up with a good story, unlike his beautiful writing partner Kennedy, who he's sure will ditch her popular boyfriend and fall in love with him sometime soon. Even Robbie Zack, Arthur's nemesis, has an idea! As the competition draws closer, and as his father drifts further and further away, how far with Arthur go to win?
Review: Arthur Bean, an egotistical and bright seventh grader, chronicles his school year through entries in his reading journal, email exchanges, and writing assignments in this humorous coming-of-age novel. He knows he is very smart and isn't afraid to tell everyone. While some readers maybe put off by his know-it-all attitude, Arthur reminded me of a younger version of Sheldon Cooper, especially when it comes to his teacher insisting that in fact he does not know everything.
Arthur wants to be a famous, wealthy author and hopes to start his journey by winning a citywide contest for young writers except he has a severe case of author's block. In addition to his writing woes, Arthur is also forced him to tutor his nemesis and bully, Robbie by his teacher in hopes that both boys will learn to understand each better. Arthur also tries to woo the heart of his crush and writing partner Kennedy.
Underlying these familiar middle-school dramas and problems, there is a grey cloud lingering above Arthur and his father as they are grieving over the recent death of his mother. Though Arthur doesn't directly talk about his grief, it is implied but I wished it focused more which will help balance the book between the humorous parts of the book with the more serious issues. The author does a job establishing and maintaining the humor of the book from Kennedy's exuberant personality which shines through her LOL-dotted, exclamation-point-laden emails to Arthur's response to his homework assignments. I would also have liked the author to avoid the stereotypes of a bully as well as the self absorbed popular girl. Overall Arthur may not be a likable character for every reader, but he does learn a few things about compassion, open-mindedness, and fairness.
Rating: 3.5 stars
Words of Caution: There are a few scenes of Arthur's father drinking beer but that is about it. Recommended for Grades 4 and up.
If you like this book try: Charlie Joe Jackson series by Tom Greenwald