One of my oldest friends, affectionately known as “Little Matt” has also developed a friendship with Isaac. For Isaac’s birthday this year, Matt sent him the book “Stupid Alabama” by his friend Michael P.Wines. Matt assured me that despite it’s length it would hold both of our attentions with numerous humorous scenarios involving bodily functions.
The boy ended up begging to read more every night.
It is the story, a fifth grade Brooklynite Melvin has adventures with his Uncle Petro, a biologist in Alabama. It is a fish out of water story that doesn’t discount the city kid’s intelligence and savvy. I appreciated how expectations about what it means to be an environmentalist, outdoorsman, and even a Southerner are all shown to be more complicated than you would initially expect.
Every few chapters, “Petro’s Field Notes” provides humorous information about animals mentioned in the book.
Uncle Petro works at a university lab and is trying to save some local endangered species. The reader gets a glimpse at some of the day to day reality of being a scientist, but also some of the eccentric personalities that are drawn to this line of work
The closest thing I can compare it to is one of Hiaasen’s young adult novels like “Hoot”. There is a little bit of age appropriate romance, but the animals, pranks, and adventures are the real draw here.
If there was any weakness, it would be the buffoon like investigative journalist. A great foil for kids to hate, but I just couldn’t help imagine his part being played out like any of the hundreds of bad kid’s movie comical villains I have seen.
I think kids from ages 8-14 would love this book, especially if they like reptiles, and the fluids that those reptiles excrete when threatened.