How to Win a Slime War
But Alex's dad thinks Alex should be focused more on "traditional" boy pastimes and less on slime. As the new soccer coach, Dad gets Alex to join the team. Even though he hates sports, Alex gives in.
Alex is battling on multiple fronts--with his new friends at school, and with his dad at home. It will be a sticky race to the finish to see who oozes out on top.
It’s sometimes hard to find unique topics to write about, but how many books actually feature slime created by middle-grade students? The slime doesn’t become a monster, and it doesn’t terrorize the students. It’s just gooey, colorful, slime, and it’s for sale. The science teacher even makes it the subject of her first unit which gives Alex permission to practice making slime at home. Many chapters in the book begin with recipes for different kinds of slime, so young readers can make their own batches at home while they read the story!
Several subplots are skillfully interwoven with the slime war, and they mesh into an overall wonderful story. Alex’s father was a renowned athlete when he was younger, and he pushes Alex to join a soccer team. Of course, Alex has no interest in sports, so an internal conflict ensues. His father also now owns the Filipino market created by Alex’s retired grandparents, but Alex is concerned that some popular features of the business will be eliminated by his father. How will his grandparents react when they find out? Meredith currently controls the slime market at school, and the slime war will determine if Alex will replace her. However, Alex is uneasy about his business partner’s marketing strategies, and Alex slowly discovers important secrets about his competitor. It’s important to put yourself in other people’s shoes to fully understand their behaviors, and the two competitors transform their relationship to resolve the slime war.
Alex is a good, honest character who cares about doing the right thing. Meredith treats him like an enemy, but Alex tries to treat her kindly when they interact. When she creates a smear video about his slime, Alex refuses to retaliate by making negative comments against her. He even tries to work with her when they’re partnered in science class. Alex respects his father by following his rules and instructions even though Alex doesn’t agree with everything his father says. He doesn’t like playing soccer but agrees to join a team to make his father happy. He respectfully questions his father about changes to the market and displays empathy for his grandparents, Lola and Lolo. Alex enjoys spending time with his older cousins, and they provide valuable guidance. The character relationships create a truly wonderful feel-good story.
What didn’t work as well:
Some readers prefer rebellious characters and dramatic confrontations, but this book will disappoint them. The characters aren’t perfect, but their actions aren’t evil or overly devious. The typical middle-school bully doesn’t do anything terribly bad, and he displays encouragement toward Alex as the soccer season moves on. The kid’s two-faced behavior doesn’t make him likable, but it doesn’t create much negativity either. However, the book develops positive feelings between friends and family, so the author’s writing strategy is a huge success.
The Final Verdict:
A feel-good story of friends, family, and slime. A middle school being so obsessed with slime isn’t realistic, but it forms the basis for an engaging story. The positivity of the main character makes this a must-read for young readers.
This is exactly the sort of middle grade book that I wish made up the majority of my purchases, since it's what my students most often request: humorous, upbeat stories of children from a variety of backgrounds doing Interesting Things while having a bit of school drama. Perfect for fans of Gordon Korman, Richards' Stu Truly, Acampora's Danny Constantino's First Date and Uhrig's Double the Danger and Zero Zucchini.