HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: The Diary of a Seventh Grade Hybrid
Author: Lee J. Mavin
Cover Illustrator: Sam W. Pryor
Publisher: Grace Publishing, 2011
Related website: www.publishedbygrace.com/
Language level: 3
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: Intended for ages 8-18; I would say 13 and up
Rating: 4 stars (GOOD)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Mavin, Lee J. The Diary of a Seventh Grade Hybrid (published in 2011 by Grace Publishing). How do you think that you would feel if you were the only kid in school with antennae? This book, told in diary form, is the story of Sigmund (Ziggy) Zhao’s seventh-grade year at Fuqian International High School in Shanghai, China. He makes friends with a really short Japanese boy named Hiroki and a very tall kid named Kane, whom he nicknames “Tree Boy.” Even though Kane prefers soccer, the three learn to play basketball. Ziggy takes Math with Mr. Brown, whom the students call “Fatty,” Science with Mr. Smith, History with Mrs. Wang, Gym, and English with Miss Cherry Wood who is really nice. In fact, he develops a crush on her. While he has some trouble in math and science, one thing that he can do exceptionally well is write poetry. And he has to deal with a bullying eighth grader named Timmy Tang who calls him a freak and wants to “flush” him. All this is fairly normal.
However, there are several very puzzling situations and events. First of all, Ziggy has feathery green antennae which he tries to hide under an extra large basketball hat but everyone finds out about them anyway. He can’t remember anything about the past before waking up on the day before the first day of school. Yet, he has occasional flashbacks, and Miss Wood seems so familiar, as if he’s known her before. Also, he has dreams and hears a voice which talks about a Toyota robotics designer named Takeshi Shibuya, but it all seems to relate to some future invasion of earth by aliens, and it turns out that Takeshi is Hiroki’s uncle. A girl named Emily wants Ziggy to be her boyfriend, but later she starts acting all weird. Another girl with crazy hair named Mary starts following him around and giving him warnings. One of the oddest things is that he learns how to jump into other people’s bodies. In fact, once he jumps into the body of a roach. Two of his teachers, Brown and Smith, use strange computers to monitor him. And every now and then he is kidnapped, taken to a hospital-like room, and hooked up with all kinds of wires. What is going on?
The very title of the book may reveal a clue to help answer that question. The Diary of a Seventh Grade Hybrid “is the first of a six part series, that slowly uncovers the memories, thoughts and adventures of Ziggy, a boy with a very special secret.” Parents may want to know that in addition to some childish slang (Hiroki has “poo-brown” braces and the basketball team gets their “butts kicked”), Timmy Tang uses the phrase, “O my God,” when he sees Ziggy’s antennae, and Ziggy himself wants to know “what the h*** is going on.” The term “suck,” which many people feel borders on vulgar, is used frequently. There are several references to boy-girl relationships and dating between twelve-year-olds. Ziggy cheats on a test, gets revenge on Timmy, and is said to lie on several occasions. Also he says that he hates various people at different times. And there are a couple of scenes where kids end up being seen in their underwear. These kinds of things are fairly common in a lot of young adult novels today, and many folks will probably have no problem with most of them. Teens who are really into strange, science-fiction fantasy stories will very likely enjoy this book.