There’s a war in Ms. Sanchez’s third grade class between three of the boys. Ever since the end of Christmas vacation, Jared Matthews and Stanley Washington have had it out for EllRay Jakes. Jared and Stanley don’t pull things in the classroom, at first, but they are at EllRay during lunch, recess, break and other times when they are out of sight from teachers and other adults. They know how to hide their rib-aching digs and other things they’re doing from other kids as well. EllRay swears Jared’s biggest aim is to make him cry in front of everyone at school.
EllRay’s determined not to let anyone know what Jared and Stanley are doing to him. He doesn’t want other boys taking sides and making this war bigger because that wouldn’t end things for EllRay. He doesn’t want the girls chattering about the war and staring. He definitely doesn’t want his parents involved. Not when they are already on his care for his progress report, the one that says “Behavior: Needs Improvement.” His teacher is calling home each day with a report on him now and his dad grills EllRay about his day. Then a prize is dangled in front of EllRay – a day at Disneyland if he can hold it together for a whole week.
Each day, EllRay struggles not to react to Jared and Stanley, not to blow up. He tries not to make the other kids laugh or make faces. The week gets worse and worse, and still he keeps trying to hold it together.
What I really enjoyed about this book was Jared’s family. His mom’s a writer who gave EllRay and his sister unusual names. EllRay’s dad is a geologist, who is busy and serious all of the time. EllRay’s commentary on his parents throughout the book tells a lot about him. His younger sister Alfie is hilarious. When EllRay has a headache, she suggests he “try sleeping with your feet on the pillow because maybe then your headache will get mixed up and go someplace else!”
The next book in this series is EllRay Jakes is a Rock Star!