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Saturday, December 26, 2020

Debut MG Novel a Spuderrific Read

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Potatoes have never been good to 12-year-old Ben Hardy.  Now that he's living in small-town Idaho in the heart of spud country, he feels positively cursed by his least favored vegetable.  A for-instance: after accidentally causing the school mascot to fall and sprain his ankle, Ben is sentenced to finishing out the season as Steve the Spud.  There are only two weeks left, but that's plenty of time for all of Ben's popularity plans to go straight down the toilet.  If his classmates know he's the one inside the dorky potato man suit?  That's it for Ben.  He'll go down forever as the nerdiest of nerds.  Since that absolutely cannot happen, he vows to keep his substitute Steve the Spud act top secret.  What could possibly go wrong?

I've read several dozen middle grade novels for the Cybils Awards over the past few months.  Most of them have told heavy, issue-y stories about everything from grief to neglect to homophobia to sexual abuse to drug addiction.  While these topics are timely and important, they also make for tough, sometimes depressing, reading.  After consuming book after book like this, I was definitely ready for something less weighty.  And guess what?  My Life As a Potato, a debut novel by Arianne Costner, was just the ticket!  It's a quick, funny, light-hearted novel that doesn't pretend to be anything but.  Ben's plight might be silly, but it makes for a lot of laughs while teaching some good lessons about honesty, being yourself, and putting in the effort to make the best out of an unpleasant situation.  If you're looking for diversity (this is rural Idaho we're talking about); deep, meaningful subject matter (it's hard to be serious about potatoes); or controversial topics (mashed vs. baked?), you're not going to find it here.  My Life As a Potato is simply a humorous, upbeat, enjoyable novel.  It's never going to win the Newbery, but there's still something to be said for a book that seeks only to entertain.  Personally, I loved it.  Hand this one to reluctant readers and fans of silly humor à
la Gordon Korman, Lincoln Peirce, and Jeff Kinney.

(Readalikes:  books by the authors mentioned above)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

To the FTC, with love:  I bought a copy of My Life As a Potato with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha.


  1. This sounds like pure escapism fun. I get the need to broach heavier subjects, but ultimately we read to enjoy it. I think it is important for younger readers to have these options too!

  2. I'm looking forward to reading this one. :)


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