Title: Victor Survives Being a Kid
Author: Heidi Vertrees
Major Themes: Colorado, Mexico, Schools
Synopsis: Victor has had to change schools, and faces many challenges in his fifth-grade year; will he survive the class bully, an icy walk in the dark, and being kidnapped, besides his dad being away in Mexico?
A while ago, I was offered a review copy of Victor Survives Being a Kid. I’m rarely offered a children’s book, so I took the time to research this one pretty closely. It sounded like it might be really good, so we took a chance on it. I read it aloud to my children, and my mom also read it.
Victor was a Hispanic boy living in Denver, Colorado. Because his father just left for Mexico, Victor, his mother, and his younger siblings moved in with his grandparents, and Victor had to go to a new school. Of course, a new school means making new friends and dealing with new enemies. Could he survive as the new kid in his fifth-grade class? The class bully, Carlos, wanted to make sure the year was miserable for Victor, while some of the other children in the class were actually nice.
Throughout the entire school year, Victor struggled with one thing after another. At the top of the list, of course, were his ever-present questions: Why did Papa go to Mexico, would he ever come back, and how could Victor make his mother happy again? Things kept happening to him. The school camp in the mountains in the middle of winter tested him to the limit of his endurance. Could he hang on to what he learned on the icy walk down the mountain in the dark—if he managed to survive it? When he and the class bully found themselves kidnapped, would they survive? Victor’s big question all year was if he would survive fifth grade, let alone being a kid growing up Hispanic in a low-income neighborhood in Denver.
Spanish words and sentences (and their translations!) are sprinkled naturally all the way through the story. I liked the way that gave the flavor of Victor’s culture, while still allowing us to understand everything. A lot more Mexican customs were also described. I also liked the way Victor’s faith in God grew, and how he developed courage and confidence during the year. I really liked the way he cared for and looked after his younger brother and a girl at school, too. The one thing I didn’t like about that was the way his attraction to her was described, although their friendship stayed totally innocent.
I appreciated my mom’s perspective on Victor Survives Being a Kid. Because I was homeschooled all the way through, I have no experience with being in a school setting. She commented that all the scenarios presented in this story seemed plausible, and she really liked this book. My children weren’t so excited about it, probably because it is so far out of their experience. By the time we got to the part about the kidnapping, though, they were asking for more chapters, because the story was getting so exciting. Overall, it is a good book, especially for children who go to school and have to deal with bullying.
I received a review copy of this book, and these are my honest thoughts about it.
WARNING: Victor thinks “holy macaroni” once and “holy tamales” another time. A girl tells him that she loves him. A man roughs someone up on the street.
Listening Level—Ages 8 – 12
Reading Independently—Ages 8 – 12
Links to buy this book:
Amazon: Paperback | Kindle
AbeBooks: View Choices on AbeBooks.com
Book Depository: Paperback
Leave a Reply