Review Detail

Important Life Lessons
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
4.0
This sequel to Way of the Warrior Kid finds Marc having a very bad day on the last day of school. His nemesis, Nathan James, has called him "Plate Face" one too many times, and Marc gets so angry that he throws a fake pumpkin at Nathan-- which ricochets off him and hits their teacher! The principal ends up calling Marc's Uncle Jake, who has just arrive in town to spend the summer with Marc. Uncle Jake doesn't get mad; he tries to get to the root of Marc's problems and help him to fix them. It's not Nathan's fault that Marc was sent home, it's Marc's fault for allowing himself to become angry and act irrationally. In the same respect, it's not Marc's mother's fault that she won't buy him a new bike; it's Marc's fault for not taking good care of the first bike she gave him. Marc ends up spending time in a summer camp which Nathan also attends, and part of his job over the summer is to learn to understand Nathan's behavior and get along with him. He also continues his physical training (Uncle Jake, remember, is a Navy SEAL), fix up his bike, and learn to get his anger under control. In the end, Marc finds that doing these things, while they may seem boring, make him a better person.
Good Points
Uncle Jake is a great, unflappable mentor who shows Marc how much he loves him by being tough on him. Of course, at one point Marc complains that he is tired and wants a day just to goof off and play video games, but this day is shown later to be rather unsatisfactory, since accomplishing something always makes for a better day. Not happy to limit his influence only to Marc, Uncle Jake also mentors Nathan, who is depicted as a lonely and bitter child who lacks adequate adult care and supervision. Marc's reactions to life events are realistic and understandable, and he is quite amenable to Jake's interventions.



While this seemed a bit on the didactic side for me, there are many, many middle grade readers who don't understand many of Uncle Jake's lessons, just like Marc! Aimed at fans of notebook novels like Big Nate, Wimpy Kid, and Middle School: Get Me Out of Here, these books would be fantastic for young readers who struggle with self control, consequences of their actions, and general empathy.
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