Principal Mikey, by Derek Taylor Kent, is about Mikey McKenzie, a ten-year-old kid with twenty-two-lens-thick glasses, who wants adults to take him more seriously. He gets his wish when his eccentric principal goes on leave and appoints him the temporary principal. Mikey, along with his best friend, Justin, implements changes immediately, some that succeed and some that fail dismally. Every day is a new adventure as Mikey tries to make his school a better place in the short time he has in charge.
Principal Mikey is a fun book. The concept is absolutely ludicrous, but that’s what makes it entertaining. The changes Mikey implements in his school are definitely ones a ten-year-old would make (his first decree is “no homework!”), and it’s entertaining to see the consequences of his decisions. Mikey is a fun and dynamic character, but since the book is only a little over 150 pages, he is really the only character we get to know. Because of this, side characters feel underdeveloped (in particular, Mikey’s parents, who are only seen in the beginning when they enthusiastically support Mikey as principal).
At times, the book becomes a little too much like Kent’s proposal for a new public school system: Move recess to the beginning of the day so students wake up, give kids special jobs in the morning so they feel a sense of purpose when they come to school, and implement a reward system for students, instead of a punishment system. When the superintendent calls to deliver some bad news, Mikey monologues about the issues with standardized testing. It’s hard to believe any ten-year-old, even an intelligent child like Mikey, would have that much to say about the subject, but as a former public school teacher, I found it extremely accurate.
The novel’s intended audience of seven to twelve will most likely delight in Mikey’s antics and be thrilled by the fun and far-fetched plot. The back of the book really asks the most compelling question of the novel: “What would you do if you got to be principal of your school?” Kids will enjoy asking themselves this question as they read Principal Mikey.
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A copy of Principal Mikey was provided by the author for review. To learn more about Derek Taylor Kent, visit his website here, or to purchase any of his book series, including autographed copies, visit Whimsical World Books here!