Dumbstruck Disappoints as a 7th Grader

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Isabelle Aboaf writes, “Dumbstruck”…

“Dumbstruck”, by Karla Oceanak, didn’t hit the right notes with me, but I’m pretty sure that’s only because it’s better for smaller kids (I’m 13). When I flipped through “Dumbstruck”, the text and pictures looked similar to what most middle and elementary schoolers recognize as Diary of a Wimpy Kid, a popular “graphic” novel type journal that is painfully hilarious and inexplicably entertaining. Deciding to give it a try, I got home and read it within 2 hours (it’s not long at all – 142 pages of text).Maybe my expectations were high, considering I’d read all the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books before, enjoying each one more than the last. But Dumbstruck never really made me laugh out loud, or even smile. It seemed to little-kid like and the humor wasn’t geared for middle school kids.Basic Storyline: Aldo, entering 5th grade, has a new art teacher named Ms. Munroe….and for some reason that he can’t figure out, Aldo likes her (a lot!).She sets up a new art contest and Aldo can’t decide what to draw, and along with his friends Bee, Jack, and a new deaf acquaintance Danny, Aldo lives through the stress – and elementary-school issues he has to deal with.I should mention that “Dumbstruck” is part of a series that has alphabetical titles. The theme of the series is to get kids to learn new words (there are asterisks next to words that start with the first letter of the title). For example, the book that I read, “Dumbstruck”, had asterisks next to words like “dawdling” and “deceive”, which were later defined in a glossary in the back of the book.That’s one of the reasons “Dumbstruck” wasn’t age appropriate (for me, at least.) The story line had one big topic, instead of smaller ones (like Diary of a Wimpy Kid), which made the book go slower and not as exciting or interesting.However, I do think this book would be fun to read for kids in their middle years of elementary school (2nd-4th grade). The glossary and vocabulary-building aspect might be more effective for those ages than for people like me (ages 12 and up may not enjoy this as much). A light read, this book would be better for younger kids.”Dumbstruck”-Written by Karla Oceanak-Illustrated by Kendra SpanjerBailiwick Press, copyright 2011.