Reviewed by: Michael Thal
Genre: Children’s books/Middle Grade
Approximate word count: 65-70,000 words
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Peter Mills lives in a world controlled by women. As a student at Finley Junior High School, he and his friends enjoy quilting and even sign up for the Quilting Team at their school. But the Falcon, the school’s psycho gym teacher, won’t have any of that. Her Synchronized Swim team needs four boys and she’s enlisted Peter, Plumpy, Ismir, and Gary to join. Or else!
Daniel Kenney’s middle-grade novel, The Beef Jerky Gang tells the hysterical story of Peter and his friends with a cast of amazing characters. My favorite is Bad Breath Drummond, the school’s bookbinder with an extreme case of halitosis. He summons Peter to his dungeon to pass along a book engraved with the title, B-A-M—be a man. It’s an ancient and forbidden book revealing the truth—girls didn’t always rule the world and other manly secrets.
From BAM Peter and his buddies learn about an assorted number of pranks that they implement to get even with their girl-controlled world, including a prank against the ever- popular sixth grader, Jessica Hale. She’s brilliant, beautiful, athletic, and perfect in every way. And don’t mess with her either, because she can beat up any boy. So the guys consider her an Ice Princess and she’s Peter’s arch-enemy and a perfect target.
The Beef Jerky Gang is a fast-paced read with plenty of action and funny sequences that will keep boys and girls engrossed from start to finish. The author pokes fun at both men and women in a plausible arc plot.
Highly recommended for boys ages 8-14.
Rating: ***** Five Stars