Hank Zipzer: A Brand New Me is the latest middle grade novel from Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver. This New York Times best-selling series is about Hank Zipzer, a funny young boy with learning challenges. Currently in fifth grade, his teacher Ms. Adolf tells him he’ll never amount to anything. Principal Love spends a lot of time lecturing him. When Hank discovers he’s in danger of not graduating, fulfilling his community service requirement might be the key to a brand new Hank.
This is the first Hank Zipzer book I’ve read, but it won’t be my last. Though I tend to shy away from celebrity written books, I found this one at a school book fair and decided to give it a try. Like Julianne Moore did with Freckleface Strawberry, Winkler and Lin have created a memorable character in Hank Zipzer. The Lil’ Diva (11) and Lil’ Princess (9) enjoyed this book for the drama and humor. As a parent who grew up watching the Fonz on Happy Days, I loved the little clues to where the inspiration behind the book and series comes from that the girls would never pick up. There’s a mean-spirited teacher that Hank describes as grey (hair, clothes, skin) with the last name of Adolf, and Winkler is Jewish. One of the teachers from the Professional Performing Arts School is named Garry Marshall, just like the producer/writer/actor who worked on Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, and Joanie Loves Chachi. Then there’s Hank’s father who wants him to learn a trade that will help him succeed, which is definitely a more traditional way of thinking than the spirit of entrepreneurship we see today.
I’m certain part of the appeal for me is in spying these clues the authors included in a series based upon Winkler’s childhood. But I can’t deny this is a book that will ring true with young people today. It’s great to see Hank succeed in an arena where he has always struggled. Kids will relate to that. Sometimes adults are too quick to judge a child’s abilities or discount less than superb grades as lack of motivation. A child who struggles with a learning disability, like the Lil’ Diva, will find a friend in Hank Zipzer and some sense of triumph right along with him.
I can’t wait to go back and read the other books in this series. I’m sure my girls are up for it, too.
Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
Age Range: 8 and up
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap (April 20, 2010)
I bought a copy of this book at a Scholastic book fair. This review contains my honest opinions, for which I have not been compensated in any way.