Review Detail

Middle Grade Fiction 1482
Will Greg throw away his shot?
Overall rating
 
4.0
Plot
 
N/A
Characters
 
N/A
Writing Style
 
N/A
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
As squirrely as Greg is, he's never been portrayed as a sports fanatic, and we find out why in Big Shot. No matter what sport he's tried, from soccer as a kindergartner to baseball to field day, he's been a spectacular failure. This is fine as far as he is concerned; sports, to him, are more about the snacks. He'd much rather be playing video games, but his mother, a former basketball player, is determined to get him to play something. Eventually, he agrees to try out for a basketball team, thinking that there is no chance he will make it. When star player Preet doesn't make the team because he's out of town for try outs, his father puts together a team of all of the players who were cut... including Greg! They are predictably bad, have horrible gym schedules, and can't even hold their own against a group of older men who are practicing in the gym they've reserved. They don't win a single game. When Greg's mother finds out about a tournament for teams that haven't won a single game, she is eager to enter them, hoping that under her coaching, they will be able to win and she can rectify her own fraught basketball past.
Good Points
Like most Wimpy Kid books, this is a bit light on plot, focusing instead of humorous anecdotes about situations such as Greg at his father's gym, an unlikely Field Day fixing scheme, an adventure at a major league baseball stadium, and a rivalry with the nearby town of Slacksville. This narrative structure must be wildly appealing to the target demographic, but causes me to struggle. Big Shot has more of a plot arc than Hard Luck, but not as much as The Getaway.

We see very little of Rowley in this installment, which is okay. I worry about his toxic relationship with Greg, but here he only has to deal with Greg hosting him for "tasting parties" for the weird snacks his mother buys. Haddock Skin Chips, Sweet Potato Cookies or Seaweed Bars, anyone? Greg does try his best to be a good team mate and sportsman, even if his efforts are sometimes misguided. There is even some talk of the team getting together again, but Greg thinks it might be wise to quite while he's ahead.

The big appeal of these books is partly due to the line illustrations and hand drawn style of font that gave rise to the trend of Notebook Novels. Other competitors in this field are Peirce's Big Nate, Kalicky's My Life in Smiley, and Pichon's Tom Gates, which have similar formats but differing levels of plot and character development. With the addition of sports, even with Greg's somewhat negative take on them, this will be a hugely popular title.
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