The Best of Iggy

Book review by
Regan McMahon, Common Sense Media
The Best of Iggy Book Poster Image
Funny look at boy whose impulsive ideas get the best of him.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Defines "extenuating circumstances" and explores the "things we wish we hadn't done," why we sometimes do reckless or hurtful things, and how we can learn from our mistakes and make things better by apologizing.

Positive Messages

Think before you act -- consider the consequences, whether what you do might hurt you or others. It's good to apologize when you've done something wrong, especially if someone was hurt. Narrator points out "The Three Types of Things We Wish We Hadn't Done: 1. Things we wish we hadn't done, but actually just wish we hadn't gotten in trouble for. 2. Things we wish we hadn't done quite as much as we did. 3. Things we really completely wish we hadn't done."

Positive Role Models & Representations

Iggy's teacher, Ms. Schulberger, is kind, understanding. Iggy's parents are loving but firm in insisting on consequences for his misguided and/or hurtful actions. ​​​​Iggy is a regular kid who makes mistakes, and by end of book he's learned from some. When an adult asks him why he did something crazy and hurtful, he answers honestly, "I don't know. I just thought it would be fun." He sincerely apologizes for hurting someone thoughtlessly. Iggy presents as White, but his three close friends are kids of color with various dark skin tones, different types of dark hair. Ms. Schulberger appears to be a person of color; her husband is White. Iggy's mother is seen only in silhouette, and his father is not shown in the illustrations. 

Violence & Scariness

A teacher gets her knee hurt by desks due to a thoughtless prank by students. A boy jumps on a trampoline and is "slammed" to the ground but he's not hurt.

Language

A boy calls Iggy "Iggy-Piggy" to taunt him. One boy calls Iggy "Loser." Iggy and ​his friends secretly call their teacher, Ms. Schulberger, Puttzi or Puttzi the Nutzi, because she owns a small car they refer to as "a putt-putt car." 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Best of Iggy is by Annie Barrows, author of the popular Ivy + Bean series. The unseen narrator speaks directly to the reader, telling the story of a fun-loving fourth-grader named Iggy who has a habit of getting into trouble, mainly when he doesn't think things through and consider the consequences of risky choices -- like egging another boy on to jump off a roof onto a trampoline. The boy gets "slammed to the ground" but doesn't get hurt. An adult gets mildly injured when Iggy and his friends crash into her with their school desks. Iggy reflects on his choices (after they go haywire), and the narrator explores the nature of getting carried away with an idea that could be reckless or hurtful, doing it anyway, and later regretting it -- and learning from it. 

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What's the story?

THE BEST OF IGGY introduces fourth-grader Iggy Frangi, who doesn't mean to get in trouble but keeps stumbling into it when he gets an idea, doesn't think through the possible consequences, and plunges ahead anyway. The unseen narrator speaks directly to the reader to frame the story and explain Iggy's thinking (or nonthinking) process. Iggy jumps off his roof onto a trampoline and taunts a boy he doesn't like into doing it, too. Angry that his older sister is babysitting him, he makes a mess with shaving cream (for white hair and beard), his mom's lipstick (for blood), and eyeliner (for wrinkles) to scare her as a wounded, bleeding old man. And, finally, he comes up with a prank during class that ends up physically injuring his favorite teacher. Will Iggy learn from his mistakes? 

Is it any good?

This story of a boy prone to getting in trouble is funny, relatable, and thought-provoking as it explores how things can get out of hand if you don't think about consequences. With a light touch and loads of humor, author Annie Barrows gets into the head of someone who's not a bad kid but veers into some bad actions for typical reasons -- because he's bored or lonely, to look tough to another kid, to annoy his older sister, to feel like a leader in his friend group, and to get a reaction from his teacher. "It was like his brain had gone on vacation," the narrator says in the middle of one of his pranks. The Best of Iggy feels real, and Ram Ricks' fun illustrations do a great job of showing us Iggy's world, his feelings, and his fantasies.

The story also shows Iggy's growth over time. Even if Iggy can't explain why he did something impulsive, he ultimately understands why it was wrong and hurtful, and he sincerely says he's sorry. Which is a great place for kids to see a character get to. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the mistakes Iggy makes in The Best of Iggy. What gets in the way of Iggy just thinking things through before he does something risky or dangerous?

  • Have you ever stopped yourself from doing something where you or someone else could get hurt? What happened?

  • What do you think of the narrator talking directly to you, the reader? Does that add another funny layer to the book? Have you read any other books where this happens? Which ones?

Book details

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