Wow, the first thing I have to mention is how wonderful this book is. If given the opportunity, I would 100% teach this book to 6th graders.
The first chapter I will be discussing is Peter the Grape. I think this is an extremely valuable chapter, as it mentions self care. Self care is something that often goes out the window when life begins to pile up. Middle school is a rough patch in a lot of people’s lives. There is a lot going on, mental health wise, physically, and emotionally. To read a book that talks about a multimillionaire who values self care is an important lesson for sixth graders to learn. Self care is important. That’s part of the reason why Peter became so successful!
The chapter Bobby Brown is one of the first chapter where we see Jimmy becoming a mini Duke, so to speak. Jimmy came up to Duke for advice this time. Duke didn’t just give it to Jimmy without asking, Jimmy wanted it. This, in my opinion, is a huge step for Jimmy. This shows that Jimmy cares and is beginning to have empathy for others around him, besides his mother. Jimmy wants to help a kid at school is a similar way that Duke is helping him. This is another wonderful lesson to teach students, to help your peers. Sometimes the people around you are going to struggle and it’s okay to reach out and try to help them. It is also okay to ask for help if you are unsure of what to do, just as Jimmy did to Duke. This chapter is very significant because the reader can see our protagonist, Jimmy, turning into a very well-rounded and evolved character.
The final chapter, Kevin Screws Up, was my favorite chapter in the whole book. On page 202, Kevin talks to Jimmy about peer pressure. Because of the peer pressure that Kevin endured and gave into, he “screwed up” and will have to face the consequences for that. Then, the book did a complete 360. On page 208, Jimmy stood up to peer pressure! This shows that he clearly was listening and learned so much from Duke, Cap, and Mister M. He saw what would happen if he stayed on the same path, just as Kevin did, and decided to turn his life around with the words of Duke in his mind. I was so proud of our fictional character, but I was also quite sad that the book ended here. I would love for there to be a part 2! I have become so attached to our growing, intelligent, well rounded protagonist that I want to keep reading about how his life turns out.
I believe this book was one huge lesson to teach our students. The theme of this book is to always make smart choices and to believe in yourself. If Jimmy had made smart choices to begin with, he would’ve never ended up upsetting his mother and working in the barber shop. However, since he make bad choices, he had to pay the consequences. From there on out, he was bombarded with lessons, mainly from Duke, about how to lead a smart and successful life. Clearly, Jimmy listened and took these lessons to heart. We know this because in the last chapter, he put all these lessons together. He knew who he was, what he wanted in life, and made a smart choice to stand up to what he knew was wrong. This is a book that our students need to learn from, and a book that I wish I had when I was in middle school!