1. Prized Possessions- I love that Ben's most favorite thing is his bicycle...not an iPod, or a tablet, or some other electronic device. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE my iPhone and think technology is a wonderful thing. It's just nice to see a child love something so "old school" if you will.
2. Adrian Underbite- I don't want to give away the story here so I won't say much, but this secondary character is fabulous!
3. Vocabulary- When books challenge kid's level of vocab, I'm all in, and this one does a great job. Words like devastated, revolved, peculiar, and perilously - all carefully picked by the author.
4. "How extraordinarily terrible" - Quite possibly my favorite page in the book. Such a true human reaction to the situation Ben stumbles upon.
5. Illustrations - Matt Davies nails each character's emotions perfectly, but it's the details he adds and connects throughout the book, like Ben's raven friend and Adrian's thundercloud on his t-shirt, that pack the extra punch.
Parents: This book teaches a great lesson about showing kindness, even to someone who doesn't seem to deserve it. Kids will easily relate to the main character and the ups and downs he experiences through the story.
Teachers: This book can serve as a mentor text for your student's own writing. Ben loves his bicycle but you could have your students pick their own prized possession and then write a story about it. Also, this book could be used to open a discussion about bullying. Last, a great text to use when teaching how to make predictions as a reader.
Writers: Great page turns, great secondary characters, voice, pacing