Monday, August 6, 2018

Review: Principal Mikey by Derek Taylor Kent

by Derek Taylor Kent
Illustrated by Paul Louis Smith
Middle Grade Humor
170 pages
ages 8 to 12

A hilarious S.T.E.A.M. chapter book for fans of Wimpy Kid and Dork Diaries, this heartwarming story is perfect for any 7-12 year old. Mikey McKenzie is an expert at using the scientific method to solve problems in his neighborhood and school. The only problem he can't solve is that he's just 10-year-old and nobody takes any of his ideas seriously. But everything changes when the kooky Principal Walker appoints him as the new school principal when she gets called away, much to the chagrin of the stern Vice Principal Sherman. It's a dream come true for Mikey to finally have the power to implement all his great ideas to improve the school. However, when the power goes to his head, the new job strains his relationships with his best friend and his sister he looks up to. On top of that, the district is threatening to close the underperforming school unless they ace the new standardized test. By the end, he'll have to think outside the box to find solutions that will save the school and his most valued relationships. S.T.E.A.M. concepts: problem-solving, scientific method, educational technology, health/medicine, and socio-emotion. 


Adults hold kids back and block the greatest ideas, or at least, that's what Mikey gets the chance to prove along with the guarantee of tons of laughs and smiles.

Mikey is ten years old and has lots of great ideas on how to solve problems. When a flu keeps half of the kids at home, he and his best friend decided to figure out where the source of this epidemic is. And they find it, but this great discovery brings something Mikey never expected. He's now been promoted to principal of the school, and what that entails is more than he might be able to cope with.

What a fun read! Mikey is a clever kid, a nerd who like all kids his age, isn't taken seriously by adults. He strives for logic in his methods and is usually pretty responsible, but he has this delicious dash of normal boy rascal-ness that makes him impossible not to love and cheer on. Not to mention ideas like a slip and slide down the hallway would make almost any kid take his side.

While humor is constantly present, this isn't a slap-stick or sheer funny read. Mikey runs into some more serious problems, especially as his sister faces the challenges of bullying and peer pressure. Even Mikey gets caught up in more difficult issues such as friendship and finding balance. The author weaves all of this nicely into a fast-paced story, letting the two sides (silliness and seriousness) meld masterfully.

The illustrations add a dash of spice and bring Mikey and his tale to life. They are sprinkled among the pages, giving readers a break from the text every now and then. This, along with the easy and short read, make it an ideal book for even reluctant readers. It's a book kids are sure to enjoy, with a character they'll easily identify with. After all, becoming principal as a kid and changing the school fits into many kids' secret dreams.

And here he is...

Derek Taylor Kent is the author of the award-winning middle grade series Scary School as well as a bestselling bilingual book, El Perro con Sombrero, which has become a staple in Spanish-speaking and bilingual homes. Other picture books include Simon and the Solar System and Counting Sea Life with the Little Seahorse, which he co-wrote with his wife, beloved children’s author, Sheri Fink. His first novel for an adult audience, Kubrick's Game, was released in 2016 and became in an international best-seller. Upcoming titles include a new bilingual picture book Doggy Claus/Perro Noel in November 2018 and a top secret new middle-grade series in 2019. Learn more about Derek and his books at There, you can sign up for his exclusive Fan Club to receive free coloring pages for kids or a free e-book! You can purchase autographed and personalized copies of his and Sheri’s books at He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and their Italian Greyhound, Zander. 

Instagram and Twitter: @DerekTaylorKent and @Sheri_Fink

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