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Book Reviews, Contemporary Realistic Fiction, Middle Grade Readers, Read-Aloud Suggestions

MELONHEAD AND THE BIG STINK by Katy Kelly

Melonhead and theBig Stink is the second book in Katy Kelly’s Melonhead series.  It is a far bigger success than the first Melonhead book.  In this story, Melonhead (4th grader, Adam Melon) learns about the “bunga bangkai” plant:  it only blooms once every seven years and emits an extremely foul odor when it does.  Melonhead discovers that The Big Stink is set to bloom in New York City on June 22nd.  After having been given a list my his mother of things NOT to do during the summer, Melonhead thinks a trip to see The Big Stink might just be the silver lining on his “don’t get into any trouble” summer.  It sure beats Craft Camp!

With his friend Sam, Melonhead devises a plan to avoid the types of situations that seem to land him in trouble by creating the Boys’ Improvement Guide For Acting Responsible Til Stink Sunday (B.I.G.F.A.R.T.S.S.)–an acronym over which no 4th grader in his right mind can avoid cracking up.  Despite his good intentions, Melonhead unwittingly lands himself in hot water with an errant baseball and an elderly neighbor’s yard, in cold water during a duckling rescue that becomes a mother duck attack, a harpoon battle and a babysitting incident in which Melonhead and Sam discover that babies and paint DO NOT MIX.

The depth of the character development and the plot is extraordinary.  We get to enjoy the madcap escapades of Melonhead;  we also get to witness his growth through his relationship with Mrs. Wilkins as he discovers that there is much more to her life than he has ever imagined.  We also experience disappointment, hurt and betrayal in a very real way with Melonhead–as well as a realistic resolution that leaves Melonhead and the reader better for having experienced it.

In this installment of the Melonhead series the action is nonstop, the pace is excellent and throughout his adventures we are quick to love Melonhead’s honesty, kindheartedness and sense of fun.  I am so glad that I read this book and that Katy Kelly realized ALL the potential for this character that was evident in the first book, but not entirely successful.  Although I would not necessarily recommend the first book in this series, I HIGHLY recommend Melonhead and the Big Stink as both an independent and a read-aloud selection!

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