Book Review: Don't Mess with Coleman Stoops

Coleman Stoops isn’t the ugliest kid in the class, but he’s certainly not the handsomest, either. Between his “husky” jeans, the absent-minded way he talks to himself, and his unfortunate habit of knowing the right answers in class, middle school’s been rough. But one day, after Coleman gets publically rejected by the girl he has a crush on, the king of the popular crowd offers to lend a hand. Things are finally looking up. Or are they?

In his debut novel, Justin Lantier-Novelli spins a heartwarming and utterly relatable story of popular versus not. His hero, Coleman Stoops, is unapologetically himself, even in the moments he’d rather be anyone else. Coleman is a bit Charlie Brown-ish in his unflinching dedication to doing the right thing despite the constant ridicule from the popular kids, who are constantly ripping away the proverbial football at the last second. He’s lovable in his steadfastness, and he and his “goonie” pals will be a source of inspiration for those grade school readers who haven’t quite found their place in the middle school social scene.

Novelli’s narrative voice is conversational and conspiratorial in a way that’s sure to delight young audiences. Reading his prose often feels like being part of a secret club whose mission is to find justice for middle school goonies everywhere.

Don’t Mess With Coleman Stoopsis the perfect middle-grade novel for anyone who needs a little boost as they head back to school this fall.

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