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Slob Hardcover – May 14, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 6-8–Owen is the fattest–and smartest–seventh grader in his New York City school. When he's not ducking the school bully or trying to survive the world's most sadistic P.E. teacher, he invents things. Currently Owen has two projects–a TV that will show events in the past and a trap to catch the thief who keeps stealing the Oreos from his lunchbox. There's a lot of middle school banter and adolescent dialogue. However, what begins as a lighthearted adventure gradually takes on a darker tone. Owen calls his invention Nemesis and insists that it needs to reach exactly two years back. As the story evolves, readers learn that there are places in town where he feels distinctly uncomfortable, and that he treasures a note that says only SLOB. Step by step, Owen reveals the tragedy behind his concerns. Two years earlier, he was hiding in the basement of the family store, listening as his parents were killed by an intruder. Adopted by the 911 operator who took his call after the murders, he dreams of identifying the perpetrator. Although Nemesis fails to solve the crime, Owen is finally able to find closure, with help from his sister, their friends, and, surprisingly, from the dreaded bully himself. A sensitive, touching, and sometimes heartbreakingly funny picture of middle school life.–Elaine E. Knight, Lincoln Elementary Schools, IL
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Potter has written a pitch-perfect novel of the miseries of middle-school. Filled with sarcasm and lots of humor, the story is filled with intriguing characters, believable and unique. --Kids Lit Blog

"An intriguingly offbeat mystery concerning the theft of cookies from a boy's lunch, at turns humorous, suspenseful and poignant. Intelligent Owen is the fattest kid in his middle school, having packed on the pounds after a major upheaval in his life caused him to begin turning to food as a source of comfort. His younger sister, who has joined up with a group at school called Girls Who Are Boys (GWAB) and taken to insisting that others call her Jeremy, coped by growing tougher. Owen, on the other hand, has become an object of ridicule due to his weight. While the Oreo heist provides the main premise for Owen to engage with other kids at school, there are a number of secondary mysteries crafted alongside it, each of them raising unexpected questions that are neatly wrapped up by the novel's end. While some readers may balk at some of its more convenient coincidences, fans of Jerry Spinelli and others of his ilk may especially enjoy it and will be held rapt." --Kirkus

"A sensitive, touching, and sometimes heartbreakingly funny picture of middle school life." --School Library Journal, starred review

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 740L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Philomel Books (May 14, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 039924705X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399247057
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #69,248 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ellen Potter is the author of many award-winning middle-grade novels, including the OLIVIA KIDNEY series, PISH POSH, SLOB, and THE KNEEBONE BOY.

Her novel OLIVIA KIDNEY was awarded Child magazine's "Best Children's Book Award" and was selected as one of the "Books of the Year" by Parenting magazine.

SLOB was selected for the Junior Library Guild Spring 2009 List and the 2010 Texas Lone Star Reading List.

Her nonfiction book SPILLING INK; A YOUNG WRITER'S HANDBOOK (co-authored by Anne Mazer) was a New York Public Library Top 100 Children's Book for 2010 and a Children's Literature Assembly 2011 Notable Book.

Her newest series is PIPER GREEN & THE FAIRY TREE (Fall 2015, Knopf).

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Cheryl C. Malandrinos VINE VOICE on June 1, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Both funny and poignant, I never knew I could enjoy a middle-grade novel as much as I did "SLOB" by Ellen Potter.

Owen Birnbaum is fat. But he wasn't always that way. Something bad happened and now he's the fattest kid at school, spending his days being teased endlessly by his classmates, afraid that the new school psycho who carries a switchblade in his sock is out to get him, tortured by his cruel gym teacher, and dealing with his sister who has decided she wants to dress and look like a boy and be called Jeremy.

Life isn't all bad though. Owen is a genius and he can invent cool stuff, like a TV that shows the past--a past that is scary, but one that can answer the questions burning inside his head...if only he can get it to work.

When the Oreos from Owen's lunch keep disappearing, he's sure the school psycho is the culprit. Owen puts together a plan--along with a neat new thief catching device--to help capture the Oreo snatcher. What he doesn't consider, however, is that science might not hold all the answers.

Every middle-grade reader will find something to enjoy in "SLOB". More than a story about an overweight kid who is teased profusely, "SLOB" is the story of one boy's quest to uncover the truth about the tragic event that altered his life forever.

Speaking directly to the reader, Owen shares his struggles at school--which stink, but he's not overly upset about because he's smarter than all those guys anyway, his sister's involvement in GWAB (Girls Who Are Boys), the torture he endures at the hands of his gym teacher Mr. Wooly, and how things change for him once the psycho comes to school--not only is Mason Ragg a psycho, he's a smart psycho.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By J. Kaye Oldner on May 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Owen Birnbaum is a twelve year old boy genius that weighs 156 pounds. Owen lives in New York City and goes to school at Martha Dixie School. There he is bullied of being over weighted and smarter than everyone else. Take for example, his missing Oreo cookies.

Every day someone at school keeps stealing his three Oreos out of his lunch bag. I do want to add that his lunch bag is actually called a canvas sack. It's made out of a recycled shower curtain - too funny!

Anyway, Owen loves his little cookies and is furious about this. He decided to use his brains to catch the thief. Each day, Owen will invent some sneaky tricks to find out who did it.

Meanwhile, he is busy with another obstacle. He's making a T. V. that will show the past. He needs to find the truth of a horrible event, taking place almost 2 years ago.

Even though some of the parts for me were laugh-out-loud funny, I felt so deeply for Owen. Also the realism in the book is so up-in-your-face good. I highly recommend this book and look forward to more books written by Ellen Potter.

Reviewed by daughter, Nona.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Julie Peterson on July 12, 2009
Format: Hardcover
SLOB is a little different than the OLIVIA KIDNEY books because the main character and narrator is a 12 year-old boy. The book starts with Owen telling you that he's not the typical twelve-year-old boy because he is "57 percent fatter than the national average for a twelve-year-old boy." From the first paragraph, I just knew I was going to fall in love with Owen. He is a wonderful, kind, insecure kid who just happens to be a genius (1 point shy as he reminds the reader.) He is definitely a memorable character that many young kids will relate to, and I absolutely adored him and can't stop thinking about what a fantastic person he was.

It quickly becomes clear that Owen and his sister Jeremy (she has changed her name to a boy's name) have been through a lot; however, the reader is gradually given hints that something tragic happened in their past. I had some ideas, but I have to admit that I was shocked with the secret. I thought Ms. Potter did an amazing job of telling this story and keeping the reader's attention.

SLOB does deal with some very serious issues, and my heart definitely went out to Owen and Jeremy; however, I have to say that I found this book to be hilarious! There was so much humor woven into this story, especially Owen's insights into life, that I don't consider it a "sad" read. The ending is definitely upbeat and the reader is left with some terrific messages. I think kids will feel bad for Owen, but I think they will absolutely love the mystery, suspense and humor in this novel. I know I couldn't put it down!

There are a lot of themes in the book that are relevant for kids in today's society including childhood weight issues, violence, lack of self-esteem, bullying, etc.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Colleen Britton Casanova on August 12, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I judged this book for an award at a local junior high, and found it surprisingly good. The narrator, Owen, has a very believable voice, and while some of the book was a bit far-fetched, I found it to be an overall enjoyable read. The plot - a mystery, which begins with missing Oreo cookies - is quite good, and ties together excellently.

I would give the book five stars, except that I felt like there was a slight lack of depth. I realize that it's a children's/young adult book, but I felt the author could've delved a little deeper, and come out with a slightly more mature book. All in all, however, I would recommend this book to junior high kids, and maybe even lower level ninth graders. The only potential problems I see are the references to swearing and violence, but these are both so minimal, that I can't really see anyone complaining.
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