Tired of books about 4th grade boys who are nothing but selfish brats with no redeeming traits at all? Then try the Hank Zipzer books; Niagara Falls or Does It? is the first title in the series and it’s a welcome addition to the stories about underachieving boys. Hank is a decent kid with great ingenuity who really does try to do what is right. In this book, he has to write an essay about his summer vacation but finds writing a horrible chore. Wanting to do the work required of him, he builds an elaborate papier-mache replica of the Falls, complete with running water. You might guess this doesn’t end well for Hank. He is sent to detention for two weeks, meaning he will miss the magic show he and his friends are performing for his grandpa’s friends. His music teacher, however, realizes that there might be a real reason why Hank isn’t living up to his potential and recommends he be tested for a learning disability. This sets up the rest of the series about a good-hearted boy learning to live with dyslexia.
If the author’s name looks familiar, you must have owned a tv in the 70s and 80s—Henry Winkler is of course better known as The Fonz from “Happy Days.” But don’t let the celebrity name worry you—these books are much better than most of the ones written by famous non-writers. Winkler himself has dyslexia and he does a thorough and believable job of capturing the struggles of a child with a learning disability. While these books would work very well for a child with reading difficulties, Hank is a well-thought-out character and will appeal to all kinds of readers. Should you read it? “Aaay.” (Sorry, I can’t resist a Fonz joke.)
Posted by: Cindy