Reading Life 20

Mercy on these Teenage Chimps by Gary Soto

Gary Soto hits another out of the ballpark with this hilarious novel about boys growing up, finding love, and building up their friendship. Ronnie and Joey, best friends and recently turned 13, have devolved into U-G-L-Y, ugly! They look in the mirror and their noses are flatter than they were before, their ears a huge, they love to climb trees, and they eat bananas any and every chance they get. Ronnie can down a banana in three bites, even. So it makes sense for them to think they've turned into chimpanzees--not monkeys, you understand, because monkeys have tails and Ronnie and Joey don't, so chimps it has to be.

Oh, like boys will, they find trouble around every corner, and when Joey climbs the rafters of the gym to retrieve a balloon for a girl he's taken a liking to, the coach embarrasses the fire out of him in front of everyone attending the sports banquet, which means, for a chimp, that he will climb a tree in his front yard and hide. He's got it easy up there, though, with his IPod, a small tv set, a bowl of fruit, and inflatable mattress, and so many more ameneties; the only thing missing, just about, is the kitchen sink. Ronnie is on a quest, then: and how funny the messes he finds himself in.

This is the best Soto's written in a while; I'd argue it's his best and funniest ever! A must read, and a great title to add to your Soto reading unit; might even be good enough to replace Baseball in April. Maybe.

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