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Book cover of A Brand-New Me! (Hank Zipzer Series #17)

A Brand-New Me! (Hank Zipzer Series #17)

by Henry Winkler, Lin Oliver, Jesse Joshua Watson

Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Other Format
ISBN: 9780448452104

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Synopsis of A Brand-New Me! (Hank Zipzer Series #17)

It's graduation time for Hank and all his friends— time to move on from PS 87 to middle school. Trouble is, there are tests Hank has to pass to get into the same middle schools as his friends, and his learning differences might get in the way. Luckily, a life-altering audition at a performing arts middle school helps him find his true path.

Children's Literature

This volume of the Hank Zipzer series looks like a chapter book, but the narrative voice is that of a jaded, underachieving fifth grader. Unfortunately, he lacks the charisma that would make him a likable character instead of a tiresome one. His forgetfulness and irresponsibility wear on the reader, although they are probably intended to make him someone young readers can relate to. In this school story, Hank is disappointed to find out that his two best friends will be going to a middle school for gifted students, while he goes on to a public middle school with other average students. But when the music teacher discovers Hank's hidden talent for improvisational drama (which doesn't actually seem as noteworthy as the characters think it is), he gets Hank an audition at a performing arts middle school. Tension mounts as Hank's audition approaches. With Hank as the narrator, the reader knows what he's thinking and feeling, so it's inconsistent to the narrative arc when Hank suddenly backs out of the audition without warning. Fortunately, his grandfather, a cliche of a wise older family member, is there to talk him through it. In the end, Hank's talent and his honesty about his learning disability see him through. Most of the adults in this book are caricatures: Principal Love drones on and on with meaningless platitudes, the severe Mrs. Adolf is a parody of Hitler, and Hank's parents act like cardboard cutouts of parents. Even his siblings act and speak in cliches, with his baby brother playing the classic role of "stinky-diapered baby brother." The author's decision to name the drama teacher Garry Marshall is likely a nod to the author's "Happy Days" television producer, a reference that seems self-indulgent since it will likely be lost on young readers. Reviewer: Michele C. Hughes

About the Author, Henry Winkler

Inspired by the true life experiences of Henry Winkler, whose undiagnosed dyslexia made him a classic childhood underachiever, the Hank Zipzer series is about the high-spirited and funny adventures of a boy with learning differences.

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