Sunday, September 19, 2021

Review: Alley & Rex by Joel N Ross

Happy Sunday! We're supposed to finally see a few drops of rain the next days, and the temperatures are thankfully dropping (I'm not a hot weather friend). Today's book is perfect for rainy weekends or a few evenings of reading. It's  a chapter book on the verge of the middle grade novel border and is packed full of fun humor.

Ready for a few laughs?

by Joel N Ross
by Nicole Miles
Atheneum Books
Chapter Book / Lower Middle Grade
144 pages
ages 7 to 10


Fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Wayside School will love this first book in a new, off-the-wall middle grade series about two boys—one with the heart of a lion and the test scores of a baked potato, the other a shy boy genius in a bunny suit—finding their strengths and true friendship.

Sixth-grader Alley Katz is innocently trying to help a bunch of kindergarteners when the burrito hits the fan. Literally. A burrito. A ceiling fan. A hail of beans. Now he has to get an A on his science test or he’ll be transferred to the dreaded Steggles Academy.

An A seems impossible! Alley is kind, intrepid, and well-liked, but for some reason he doesn’t get graded on any of that. So the principal assigns a peer mentor to help: Rex, a fourth-grade genius who wears a bunny suit.

Alley is totally in favor of both bunnies and fourth graders, but he doesn’t need Rex. He has his own foolproof plan to ace the test. Still, Rex is determined to fulfill his duty as Alley’s mentor—and he may need some help of his own. One boy needs to stay in school, the other needs to get through it. Can this odd couple save the day—and each other?



Silly pranks and laugh-worthy humor make this trouble-maker one to adore, and that before he discovers real friendship with the most unlikely of people.

Alley (aka Alex) has a super-ton of ideas and loves to put them into practice. Unfortunately, not all of them are good ideas, not even close. As the new school year begins, so does a last chance for him to prove that he can behave...or else, it's off to the private school and living with his impossible grandma. Forced to complete the ridiculously-never-going-to-happen goal of gaining an A on the next science test, he's given a Host to help him through. It's no one else than the new, younger kid, who dresses up  like a bunny every single day. 

Alley is a character to love. He's a huge trouble-maker but not out of spite. His curiosity and experimental friendliness get him into trouble time and again. He has a heart of gold and is never mean. His thoughts wander all over the place as he explains everything in an open honesty, which also calls for giggles and even a 'huh' at the warped, yet innocent, logic. He's the kind of kid to root for and wish you could be watching him, when he attempts all the ridiculous things. He definitely will grab the attention of the intended age group and keep them reading until the very end.

The writing is age appropriate and keeps a simple enough vocabulary, while also building a few more difficult terms in. Rex, the bunny-boy, is great on this end. The font is easy to read and the chapters are kept relatively short. Add the lovely illustrations, and it's a nice paced, more advanced chapter book, which doesn't easily scare readers away.

Friendship and finding it in unexpected places is one of the key themes. There is a little bullying from one of the side characters, but this is kept light and doesn't overtake the main plot of Alley and his own issues. The characters are, generally, kind to each other and offer help, when needed. It's a tale with tons of humor and laughs, and I do hope to see more of this pair in the future.

And here they are...

Joel Ross is the author of The Fog Diver, Beast & Crown, and Alley & Rex series. He’s never worn a school uniform, but he did try a spoonful of calves’ foot jelly once. The taste lingers. Visit him at

Nicole Miles was born in the United States but grew up in the Bahamas where all schools have uniforms but nobody eats calves’ foot jelly (as far as she is aware). She feels this is a fair compromise. She now lives in the United Kingdom, and her tiny place on the internet is


Natalie Aguirre said...

This sounds like such a fun story! Great that it will appeal to fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

Heather N. Quinn said...

Sounds like a book a lot of kids would enjoy. Thanks@!