Leon and the Spitting Image

Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
Leon and the Spitting Image Book Poster Image
Every kid's fantasy -- controlling the teacher.

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 2 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

Children make their teacher perform stunts, food fights, an off-color song.


Mild bathroom humor, the Miss Lucy playground song is quoted.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The coach chews tobacco; hotel guests get drunk.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this is a lightweight, fun read.

User Reviews

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Teen, 17 years old Written bychippergirl2772 June 27, 2010

My favorite book...and I'm 17!

This book was my absolute favorite book growing up. I've read it at least ten times and I don't read books. I actually just loaned it to a girl that I... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old April 9, 2008


Well I'm In Middle School I'm 11 & I Look At The Cover And I Thought It Looks Great,So I Read It Then BAM I Waz Great!! A MUST READ

What's the story?

Leon has difficulties with fine-motor coordination, which becomes a problem when his strange and maniacal fourth-grade teacher, Miss Hagmeyer, announces that each student will have to complete a series of increasingly difficult sewing assignments before going on to fifth grade. He also has problems with the class bully, Lumpkin, and an ice machine that keeps him up all night.

For his final project, Leon makes a doll that is the spitting image of Miss Hagmeyer. But when Lumpkin pours some of the coach's chewing tobacco spit on it, Leon discovers that he can control Miss Hagmeyer's actions with the doll. Suddenly life is full of interesting possibilities.

Is it any good?

This lightweight fantasy, with some mildly disgusting imagery, will keep middle-graders amused without horrifying their parents too much. The wish-fulfillment idea of controlling a mean teacher has real appeal, and the not-very-surprising ending, in which it turns out that the magic can't hurt anyone and that the teacher is not as mean as she seems, mitigates any edge the story may have seemed to have.

First-time children's author Allen Kurzweil is not taking any chances here, and there's a certain by-the-numbers quality to the care he invests in appealing to childish humor without bothering adults. The result is harmless and modestly entertaining, which seems to be what he was going for.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Lumpkin's bullying, the planned revenge, and the possible reasons for its failure. You might also ask your children what they think of Miss Hagmeyer's teaching -- their opinion may have changed by the end of the book.

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