I don’t often read books that are mainly meant for young boys, but thanks to the Kid Lit Exchange, I was able to read Stu Truly by Dan Richards, a book that just came out this month. It is a coming of age story about a young boy and also a comical look at how a lie snowballed out of control. (While I read a free copy, all opinions are my own)
Stu Truly is your average 12 year old boy. He likes to play video games and hang out with his friends. The idea of having a square dancing unit where all of the boys have to pair up with girls is a 7th grade boy’s worst nightmare. Stu himself hasn’t really ever felt the need to impress a girl before, but then Becca moves to town and he is entranced. The comical part happens when Stu tells Becca that he is a vegetarian because she is and he is looking to gain her favor. This is comical because the only vegetables that Stu really eats are potatoes and corn and his father owns the town’s butcher shop.
Now, when most kids tell a lie, they get found out pretty quickly or whatever they lied about isn’t that big of a deal. Stu really holds to his guns about being vegetarian, which can make lunch period rather challenging. Stu even tells Becca that he will help her with her campaign to make the school cafeteria have more vegetarian hot lunch options (you mean french fries aren’t a meal?) But all good lies must be found out and of course the book leads up to the Irrigation Festival where Stu will have a hard time keeping his family secret, especially since his father wants him to dress up as a prime ribs for the shop’s float in the parade.
One other great aspect included in the book is their teacher’s requirement that they all keep a food log for the semester. When they have to take a look at what foods they eat from each food group, Stu and his friend make jokes about the fact that chocolate is “dairy,” but they really don’t attempt to eat fruits and vegetables. By the end of the book, at least Stu has opened his mind to a few new foods and given vegetables a second chance.
Stu really has to figure out what is important to him, who he is, and who his friends are. He also comes to appreciate that everyone can have their own likes and dislikes, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be friends. Stu and his friends have to experience all of the awkward, embarrassing moments that middle school can bring and deal with that inner voice always wondering if the boy or girl you like likes you (that way); if what you are going through is the same as everyone else; and how to navigate the social world of the school lunch room. The only real negative that I have is that Stu is supposed to be in 7th grade, but it feels younger. Perhaps that is to counter the fact that kids like to “read up” so a book that is great for a 5th grader needs to have a main character a few years older.
For that 4th through 6th grade boy who isn’t enamored with books, this one might be right up his alley.