Illustrations by Trevor Spencer
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Release Date: March 24, 2015
Teddy Mars is the second to youngest in a family of seven and he is sick and tired of it. He is tired of The Destructor (his four-year-old brother) destroying his things and getting away with everything. He is tired of his oldest sister's singing, of his other sister always stomping on his toes, the constant noise. All he wants to do is break a world record, preferably one that was never attempted in The Guinness Book of World Records, which he practically has memorized. That isn't easy though when everyone is always wrecking Teddy's record-breaking plans.
The first time I was away from my family, really away, was when I went to Europe at fourteen. When I called my mother from Hungary and she asked how things were going, I joyfully exclaimed that it was awesome because I didn't have to buy anything for anyone else. Yes, I was in Europe and the best part of the trip was that I didn't have to share. So is the life of someone in a big family. Obviously, I found myself relating to Teddy in many ways. Although I was the oldest child, there were some of the same frustrations I had. Don't get me started on the time that my brothers utterly destroyed the dollhouse furniture that my great-grandmother made and gave to me along with a dollhouse, which was also damaged.
Teddy is a normal child with normal obsessions who really is trying to find his place in the midst of all the chaos. In frustration, he ends up moving into a tent in his back yard, tired of sharing a room with his younger brother who doesn't know the meaning of the words, do not touch. I love how determined he is, even when the weather turns cold, to stay in that tent simply because it gives him the personal space that he desperately needs. He also gets his own job feeding pigeons next door, which gives him an additional boost of confidence and independence. The facts from the Guinness Book of World Records added some fun metaphors and parallels. It would be a great gift idea to pair the World Records book with Teddy Mars.
What I disliked was the fact that the parents really do allow their youngest child to get away with extremely bad behavior. It is one thing to not fight with him about sitting at the dinner table, it is quite another to allow him to destroy his siblings things without repercussions. He is never disciplined for his actions, even when they cause serious disruptions of things like soccer games. I get that this family has seven kids, but the reason their youngest son does the things he does is because there are zero consequences for his actions. If I was this kids older sibling, I would be upset too. Even more upset if my parents invalidated my feelings by saying, "he doesn't know any better" when he is clearly old enough to know better.
That said, this story really is about Teddy and it is a good story. The reading level is perfect for kids who have outgrown chapter books, but may not be ready for Harry Potter yet. There is plenty of humor, cute illustrations, and a ton of facts that keep the story interesting and fresh. A great read for any kid who loves facts or is looking for their place in the world.
Advanced Reader Copy provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.