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Louis Sachar’s There’s a Boy in the Girls’ Bathroom

October 8, 2012

And now for something completely different:

I am writing two reviews of my favorite kids’ book, There’s a Boy in the Girls’ Bathroom by Louis Sachar.  If I like how they turn out, I will be using them as models to show my kids at school to help them write their own book reviews, to be published on

I am writing two to show my kids how tone and style and information differ, depending on the target audience.  The two target audiences I am shooting for are teachers/parents for the first one and kids in the second one.  (The kids will pick which audience they would like to target for their book reviews.)

Book review targeted to adults (teachers and parents):

If you are looking for an insightful book that would also be fun and fast reading for your 9-12 year-old boy or girl, look no further than There’s a Boy in the Girls’ Bathroom by Louis Sachar.  The book is easy to read–the print is on the large side, the chapters are short, and the vocabulary is not overwhelmingly difficult.  The book is set in a regular school elementary school, and the main characters are fifth graders.  (This might mean that fifth graders would enjoy this book the most, but I do think both fourth and sixth graders might really like it.)

Though the language of the book is simple and very funny, the ideas and themes that the book raises are mature and would create wonderful discussions in a classroom.  After meeting the quirky, yet realistic characters in the book, you will see that themes of empathy, bullying, fitting in vs. not fitting, being different, being yourself, etc. come forward.

Bradley Chalkers is one of the most realistic, sympathetically portrayed “bad kids” I have ever seen in a book written for kids.  He is a bully (his first line in the book is, “Give me a dollar, or I’ll spit on you”), but through subtle hints, Sachar allows the reader to understand exactly why Bradley would choose to behave that way.  By the end of the book, your child will probably have a lot of empathy for Bradley.  In the past, I have used the character of Bradley Chalkers to help kids develop empathy for fellow classmates that they find difficult to deal with.

This is a beautiful book–simple and humorous in its language, but complex in its themes.  I have read many books targeted to this age group, but this book is by far my favorite one to teach.

Book review targeted to kids:

There’s a Boy in the Girls’ Bathroom by Louis Sachar is my favorite book that I have ever read!  I’m a 31-year-old woman, and I think kids between the ages of 9-12 would like this book the best.  (It’s mainly about fifth graders, so fifth graders might like it the best.)

When I first saw the book, I thought it looked a little weird–the title made me think that the whole thing was going to be set in a girls’ bathroom.  The cover with the boy’s huge freckled face was kind of strange.  But after I read the book, I completely changed my mind.  The book was fun and easy-to-read.  Normally, reading takes me a really long time, but I finished this book in two nights!  I kept wanting to find out what happened next.

The book is set in a regular school, and it’s about a kid named Bradley Chalkers, who is a really weird and mean kid who doesn’t have any friends.  Everyone hates him, including his teachers.  Just to give you an example of how terrible he is, the first thing he says to the new kid at school is, “Give me a dollar, or I’ll spit on you.”

He sort of makes friends with the new kid named Jeff Fishkin and with the new school counselor named Carla.  They help him out a lot, and he decides to try to become a different kind of person.  But he discovers that this isn’t going to be as easy as he thought.

I loved this book because it was both funny and serious at the same time.  It was not as weird as I thought it was going to be.  I would definitely recommend this book to any kid who likes reading school stories with real-seeming kids as characters.

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