Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Book review: EKHO: Evil Kid Hunting Organization

My rating 3.5 stars out of 5

Elvis and his three friends, Levi, Jordy and Jackson, are 4th graders now, and have been bullied by the same bullies for several years. This year Elvis decides to do something about it, and enlists his friends to form EKHO, the Evil Kid Hunting Organization, to stop the bullies of their school. All four main boys have characteristics that make them the targets of bullies, Elvis having muscular problems, being wheelchair bound in the past, and still with a limp.

The good about this book: Strong boys who are bullied but not beaten down, good friends, who want to help all the bullied kids in school. Elvis talks about his mom and his extended family with love and pride. His mom loves him, and stands up for him. Elvis and his friends are true to themselves and proud of it. Mentioned are adaptive PE, IEPs and all kinds of other things typical public schooled kids would encounter and possibly make fun of.

The author, Marie Jones, also covers a lot of important topics as privacy when the EKHO agents start "spying" on kids. Elvis' mother points this out clearly so no reader could mistake it:

"EKHO has my blessing, but within certain boundaries. [She had described no video taping in bathrooms, teachers picking their noses, etc.] Those boundaries are breached and the only echo you'll be hearing is an empty bedroom with no computer, gaming gadgets, and the rest."

The spy gear, internet/tech stuff, gaming references, social media references, etc., etc., are all things to draw kids into the book. And those are presented in really a pretty positive way in this book. There is humor appealing to kids of the age group.

And there is a good mystery going on for the kids here ... with a bit of a cliffhanger ending to keep kids coming back for that next book.

My dislikes:

Too much of a focus on liking girls at times.  Again, these are 4th grade boys.

Lastly, too much specific name dropping - iphone, Halo, on and on. That might be specific to rope in reluctant readers, but it takes a book so fast. I doubt kids even a few years from know are going to recognize "Cake Boss," if they even do now.

Overall impression though is a good start to a series, and I might appeal to many kids. The wider the selection the better for kids ... keep them reading and enjoying. I feel the good messages in this book, explicit and implicit, far outweigh my dislikes above, but I do note those for parents and teachers. As for the mystery, I too want to know more about "the enemy of my enemy is my friend."

I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in order to provide an honest review.

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