A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Readers learn about the plight of people who live in shelters or sleep outside.
Take time to learn people's stories. You can make a difference. Believe in your dreams. Be brave about sharing your gifts.
Positive Role Models
Most of the characters are African American. Positive role models include Simon, a compassionate and hardworking boy, parents who support and encourage their son, and a creative, caring teacher. A man who lives in a shelter is presented in a positive light, as a mentor and a friend to the main character.
Violence & Scariness
In a couple of scenes, middle schoolers and older elementary school students tease one another, such as making fun of a boy who is short for his age.
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Name calling is infrequent and mild, such as one kid calling another kid "Big Head." References to people who "stink" come in the context of characters' learning about the challenges of people who live in shelters or on the street.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Simon B. Rhymin' is the first novel by Dwayne Reed, a Chicago elementary school teacher. It follows on the success of Reed's viral video, "Welcome to the 4th Grade." The main character, Simon, is a Black fifth-grader who aspires to be a rapper. In the meantime, he's nervous and excited about his more immediate challenge, successfully completing a teacher's assignment to give a presentation about a meaningful cause. Mean language is infrequent and mild, such as one kid calling another kid "Big Head." References to people who "stink" come in the context of characters' learning about the challenges of people who live in shelters or on the street. There are a couple scenes of middle-school and older elementary school students teasing one another, such as making fun of a boy who's short for his age.
Is It Any Good?
Fun, heartwarming, and fast-paced, this novel is entertaining and upbeat. Simon B. Rhymin' builds on the upbeat raps that author Dwayne Reed, an elementary school teacher, posts on social media. The main character, an African American boy in fifth grade, is broadly relatable: He's curious about the world, nervous about public speaking, a big dreamer, and a good friend. The narration is punctuated by stretches of Simon's clever raps.
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