A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Here's Hank: Bookmarks Are People Too! by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver is the first in a series introducing Hank Zipzer, the hero of the Hank Zipzer series for older readers, to a younger audience. In the previous series, which starts with Hank in fourth grade, Hank has learning disabilities, and co-author Winkler has personal experience with dyslexia. But that word is not mentioned in this story, which starts with Hank in the second grade. While Hank struggles with schoolwork, he makes tremendous effort to do the best he can. His father is loving but critical and doesn't give Hank much credit. The book is set in a typeface designed to be especially easy to read.
What's the story?
Hank Zipzer is nervous about the upcoming second-grade play: Reading the script would be nearly impossible for him. His friends Frankie and Ashley help him prepare for his audition as Aqua Fly. But when his time comes, Hank can't make sense of any of the words in the script and buzzes helplessly. He loses the part to Nick, the class bully, and his teacher creates a new role for Hank as a bookmark. Hank turns his passive role into a scene stealer. Nick's furious and tries unsuccessfully to sabotage Hank. When Nick is overwhelmed by stage fright, Hank recites Nick's lines from memory and saves the play.
Is it any good?
HERE'S HANK: BOOKMARKS ARE PEOPLE TOO! shows that you can't judge a book by its cover; this story definitely has some heart. A routine assignment for most kids is overwhelming for Hank, but he clearly has smarts and talent to spare. Co-author Henry Winkler's books are inspired by his own experience with dyslexia, and he and Lin Oliver have a plucky, creative hero in Hank. Scott Garrett's fun artwork helps bring the characters to life.
Hank enjoys supportive friends and relatives aside from his father, who means well but is a little harsh with his son. The bully character, however, strikes a sour note. Much of Nick's bullying happens in front of adults, who are only minimally responsive. And the taunts go both ways: Hank is just as quick to cut down Nick. When Nick freezes onstage, just as Hank did during auditions, there's no empathy for a young kid with stage fright -- only teasing. This may be a truthful reflection of elementary school, but it's disappointing not to see a better model on how to deal with bullies.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about bullying. How would you deal with someone like Nick? Would you tell a teacher or other trusted adult if you saw someone being bullied?
Why are books about school so popular? Can you relate to Hank or any of the aspects of the story?
How do Frankie, Hank's dad, and other people in Hank's life help him when he's struggling?
- Authors: Henry Winkler, Lin Oliver
- Illustrator: Scott Garrett
- Genre: Friendship
- Topics: Brothers and sisters, Friendship, Great boy role models, Misfits and underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
- Publication date: February 6, 2014
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 6 - 8
- Number of pages: 128
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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