On Account of the Gum

Book review by
Mandie Caroll, Common Sense Media
On Account of the Gum Book Poster Image
Lots of laughs and surprises in superb story of gum removal.

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Kids say

age 4+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Rhyming and some wordplay could provide an opportunity for learning.

Positive Messages

Try to make the best out of a bad situation, it's all you can really do sometimes. Good intentions sometimes lead to the worst ideas, so think through your decisions very carefully. 

Positive Role Models

The main character heroically endures their family's well-intentioned attempts that only make the situation worse. Even though the interventions are preposterous, the main character is both a sympathetic and relatable character. The main character is not clearly gendered and appears to be White, like most other family members. One male-presenting character (maybe the father) has brown skin.

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Adam Rex's On Account of the Gum tackles a super relatable kid problem -- gum-in-hair -- and the increasingly absurd attempts one family makes to remove gum from the hair of a very unlucky child. There's no violence, though it could be argued that this poor kid endures the torture of their well-intentioned but very misguided family. The kid tolerates a great deal of failed interventions before losing their cool and screaming at firefighters and a police officer to "GET OUT!" (followed by a quieter, "please"). Occasionally rhyming text, escalating drama, and expressive drawings make this a great read-aloud for kids of all ages.

User Reviews

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Teen, 15 years old Written byash_lay101 January 8, 2021

On Account of the gum

This book is great! I bought this book for my 4 year old sister and she loved it!

What's the story?

ON ACCOUNT OF THE GUM begins even before the title page, with a sleepy kid in bed, chewing gum and blowing a bubble. The narrator, whose identity remains a mystery (perhaps a family member?) addresses the reader, noticing that "you" have gum stuck in your hair. The narrator describes the various attempts to remove the sticky blob -- scissors, sticks of butter, grass, a cat, and more (yes, more!) -- all of which fail as each item gets stuck to the previous one. The kid's expressive face cycles through annoyance, fear, resignation, irritation, anger, and shock, amongst others. A couple of twists heighten the absurdity and hilarity of the ending.

Is it any good?

This wildly creative, giggle-and-guffaw inducing picture book will delight readers of any age. Building on an experience many kids have had -- falling asleep while chewing gum and waking up with said gum stuck in hair --On Account of the Gum chronicles one family's wayward attempts at ridding the kid of the offending gum. Rex's entertaining pictures mostly show the main character seated at a table as family members try to "help," and the art really shines in the child's priceless facial expressions and the ever-growing pile of failed gum-removal attempts on top of their head. The author's sometimes-rhyming, deadpan text is a joy to read out loud. The narrator puts readers in the shoes of the poor kid, so that by the time the plot twists near the end arrive, readers will groan in genuine empathy. There are still big laughs in store, but make sure to flip all the way to the inside of the back cover for the rewarding true end of this uproarious story. This is a great pick for family reading, sure to be requested over and over by young readers.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the humor in On Account of the Gum. What pages made you giggle the most? How do the illustrations add to the fun? What other books have you read that make you giggle or laugh?

  • Describe a problem you had that got worse before it got better. What made the situation worse? What eventually made it better?

  • How did you react when you found out it was picture day at school? Did you laugh? Groan? Feel empathy for the kid? How would you have reacted if you had been in a situation like this?

Book details

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For kids who love picture books and funny stories

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