HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: The TV Kid
Author: Betsy Byars
Cover Illustrator: Carol Newsom
Publisher: Puffin Books, Reissued 1998
ISBN-13: 978-0812414134 Hardcover
ISBN-10: 0812414136 Hardcover
ISBN-13: 978-0140388268 Paperback
ISBN-10: 0140388265 Paperback
Language level: 2
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 8 – 12
Rating: **** 4 stars
(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Byars, Betsy. The TV Kid (Published in 1976 by The Viking Press; republished in 1987 by Puffin Books, an imprint of Penguin Putnam Inc., a division of The Penguin Group, 375 Hudson St., New York City, NY 10014). Lennie lives with his mother at The Fairy Land Motel which she runs and his late Grandfather Madison had built. A lonely boy, Lennie is addicted to television. Even reruns are more exciting than real life, and Lennie likes to pretend he’s the one experiencing the drama, so he daydreams a lot. As a result, his school grades are not very good. One day, while he is off playing in a remote area where he isn’t supposed to be, Lennie’s daydreams lead him into a real situation that could cost him his life, and suddenly he’s in trouble more terrifying and dangerous than anything he’s ever seen on TV.
What happens when Lennie gets bit by a rattlesnake? Will he be able to find help in time? And are there any important lessons that he learns in the process? Author Betsy Byars has written several good books, including the1971 Newbery Medal Winner Summer of the Swans. Lennie uses the euphemism “gee,” and it said that “He cursed,” although no actual curse words are given. The plot moves along slowly for a time while Byars provides an introduction and exposition of Lennie’s mindset, but becomes more suspenseful later on. The important take away from the story is that Lennie’s life-changing encounter with the real world is a pivotal event that he uses to help redefine himself, grow up in character, and learn to focus. Kids will see the importance of accepting and embracing reality.