Written in first person, and with Howard being prone to talk to himself, (a necessity since he has no friends to talk to), much of the book reveals Howard's character and thought processes to the reader. He is a creative boy trapped in an awkward, skinny body with a low self-esteem and a high IQ. The kind of junior-high student bullies look for- and find- daily!
Howard's description of the "in crowd" are those superstars of middle school who can utter "a single word and plunge another student to the bottom of the popularity ladder or raise you to that glorious place where even the eagles get nosebleeds." He dubs these chosen ones the UP's, the "uber-populars." At the beginning of the story Howard wants to be one. At the end of the book, he knows he had a close call with being one, but thankfully, he now knows the meaning of being a true friend--thanks to Franklin Stein.
Franklin Stein was the name Howard gave to the friend and monster he created out of spare parts and the DNA of various animals, (thanks to his animal catcher dad) and his natural ability to invent things. Secretly hanging out in his make-shift lab in the garage along with lab assistant, Reynolds Pipkin, the experiment became larger, literally, than Howard could have imagined. A creature began to take shape and with the help of a computer inputting information, a walking, talking friend emerged. Fortunately for Howard, as a last moment decision, he had thrown in some blonde follicles belonging to Winnie, one of the nicest, kindest seventh graders at school.
From Winnie and a few other kind characters in the book, Franklin morphed into Howard's true friend, not like one of the UP's he used to worship. A true friend doesn't have fun at the expense of others, coax others to do their work for them, use friends for selfish gain, or abandon friends in need.
Hopefully, this book will not only entertain but help readers define what a true friend is and how to be one!
The book is hilarious and a good read for all ages. Pre-teens should find it funny, I often found it hilarious. (reviewed by Carly D. Karns, Teacher at Alamance Christian School)
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About the author: Ron Bates is a freelance writer and award-winning copywriter who lives and works in Texas. He began his career as a newspaper reporter and later became an editor and columnist. His frequently funny takes on life caught the attention of Legacy Publishing, which hired him as resident humor-columnist. His works include the children's story Arnold Bought a Bug; the inspirational play Flight 1615; Underground Ink, a collection of humorous poems; the Cranium Comics series Brawn; and St. Mary's and the Art of War, the true story of how Italian POWs transformed a tiny, Texas church. Learn more at howtomakefriendsandmonsters.com.
DISCLOSURE: Zonder provided a complimentary copy on behalf of the author for the purpose of this review. No compensation was received for this review.