Saturday, August 3, 2013

Elvis and the Underdogs

Elvis and the Underdogs          
by Jenny Lee is a very fun children's book.  I LOVED this book, it was just so entertaining even though the subjects touched upon are pretty serious.  The narrator's self-deprecating humor gives the reader a chance to share his worldview and see a different way to approach life.  I don't have kids so I am unfamiliar with the show Shake It Up but with this talented lady as a writer and producer, it's no wonder that it's the number-one-rated kids' show in the country.

There are glimpses of what kids go through in a typical day, e.g. lunchtime:  "Basically, you can't sit at a table unless you're invited.  No one let me sit at their table, mainly because where you sit in the lunchroom is all about status, and I had none.  It's like a nice neighborhood where you don't want to get that one neighbor who puts up some puny little house smack in the middle of all these super-nice mansions." and then there are the adventures that Benji gets into but one thing for sure, he never feels sorry for himself and he definitely keeps the reader from being melancholy.

My review:

“Elvis and the Underdogs” is written by Jenny Lee and illustrated by Kelly Light. This is a wonderful children’s story that centers around 10 year-old Benji Wendell Bernsworth, who holds the record at his school for missing the most days because he is frequently sick but can’t convince Billy Thompson (who breaks the records for missing school because he gets suspended so much) to stop bullying him. A series of events related to Benji’s illnesses results in him getting to know Parker Elvis Pembroke IV by mistake. The only trouble is that Benji is the only one who understands what Elvis (as Benji calls him) is saying, but Benji discovers that he can learn a great deal from his new companion and his life will never be the same.

This delightful children’s tale addresses an amazing number of serious issues in such a lighthearted manner that one doesn’t get bogged down in depression but rather celebrates the way this amazing family handles their obstacles. This is a giggle out loud book that, although it gets rather fantastical, provides a way of looking differently at the scary world of hospitals, life-threatening allergies, bullying, parental expectations and peer pressure. The compassionate nurse who finds a way to transform needed hospital visits into a punch card to be celebrated because every tenth visit comes with a prize, Benji’s favorite family picture that has everyone looking in a different direction, a competitive and opinionated Newfoundland dog, and even life with a prosthetic are all parts of Benji’s life which is addressed in a frank and unpitying manner. The unconventional approach to life as seen by Benji will appeal to children and adults alike as one discovers that there are ways to compensate for just about everything although I can’t help but sympathize with Benji...I wouldn’t want to wear a giant safety helmet everywhere either! There are fun illustrations that add to the allure of the book and a wry tone that invites the reader into this zany world and I certainly hope there will be more tales by this very talented author.

© Night Owl Reviews

I received a copy of this title in return for an honest review.


  1. This sounds like a really intriguing story that maybe everyone not only the little one's might enjoy :)

    1. I think kids will be entertained by the story itself but adults will be attracted by the wry humor and the ideas for different ways to look at things!