Thursday, February 7, 2013

Middle School Pick: 33 MInutes

33 Minutes
by Todd Hask-Lowy
210 pages

Funny, heartfelt, clever, poignant, and zany with the most awesome cafeteria food fight in literary history, 33 Minutes will entertain and enthrall readers. Sam Lewis (Lew) is a uber-smart math nerd who knows all the answers to all the questions in every class and uses his razor sharp wit to keep the class in stitches. His teachers barely tolerate his ramblings, but do so only because what Sam says is usually genius quality.

In exactly 33 minutes, his ex-best friend Morgan Sturtz has promised to kick his butt. Sam worries about this as Morgan is at least 40 pounds heavier than he is and twice his size. Morgan is as good at sports as Sam is at math equations.

When Sam thinks about getting his butt kicked, he says, "Because if you know someone was going to kick you some place, would you not hope for that place to be your butt? The butt is, after all, the most paddded location anywhere on your entire body."

A food fight of epic proportions saves the day until Sam is whacked over the head with a salad bowl and loses consciousness. He visits the nurse's office and then the principal's. Sam is thinking of immigrating to Canada or changing his name, but realizes that Canadian immigration laws are very tough.

Sam wonders if he does get beat up and gets a black eye, would Amy (a smart girl he's crushing on) hold a cold steak to his bruised eye? But he says, "Too bad she's a vegetarian. Could tofu work like steak when it comes to black eyes?"

Sam remembers last year when he and Morgan played Alien Wars for nine hours straight. They were the best team in Alien Wars history, eating three pizzas, two bags of Cheetos and drinking four liter bottles of Mr. Pibb (my personal favorite!) How can it be that Morgan is so mad that he wants to kick Sam's butt?

Enter new kid in the neighborhood--Chris. Once Chris moves in, he becomes the dividing factor in the boys' friendship. Chris starts the trouble between Morgan and Sam and channels his inner Cassius (Julius Caesar villian) to get Morgan hyped up.

33 Minutes is as true as a middle school book can be. Sam is lovable and likeable. If we could meet Seth McFarland as a middle school boy, he would be Sam Lewis. R.J. Palacio, writer of bestseller Wonder, says, "Funny, fast-paced and quite poignant" (book cover).

Highly, highly recommended for all middle schools grade 6-up. Highly recommended for reluctant readers. There are some clever illustrations that fans of the Wimpy Kid series will love. The only language is "butt." Sweet hand holding between Amy and Sam.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at

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