c.2016, Bloomsbury Children’s Books
$9.99 ($10.99 Canada)
74 pages

Being a responsible kid has its rewards.

First, there’s the feel-good; you did well, and you can be proud of yourself. That leads to the second benefit: adults see your responsibility, and you’ll have earned their trust. And in the new book “Little Shaq: Star of the Week” by Shaquille O’Neal, illustrated by Theodore Taylor III, there are other bonuses, too.

It was Friday, and Little Shaq was excited but not because it was almost the weekend. He was excited because it was Walter’s last day as their class’s Star of the Week, and Little Shaq was sure he’d be chosen next. Part of the job was taking care of Flopsy, the class rabbit, but that wasn’t what Little Shaq looked most forward to. He thought Show and Tell was the best part of being Star of the Week.

For months, Little Shaq had been saving things to “show.”

When Mrs. Terpenny announced his name, Little Shaq was happy but nervous, too; his first important task was to take Flopsy home, and that was a big responsibility. But when Little Shaq noticed a poster about a Pet Fair in the neighborhood, he had an idea: maybe, if he did a good job with Flopsy, his parents would finally let him get a pet.

For a while, Little Shaq had been asking for a kitten of his own; all his friends had dogs or cats, and he loved animals. But his mother pointed out that he needed to be reminded to do his chores and make his bed. How could he be responsible for a pet when he was so irresponsible with everything else?

It was a long week for Little Shaq, and it started when his brother, Tater, lost Flopsy. Then Little Shaq lost his voice, taking attendance. He was in charge of afternoon snacks and that got messed up, too. How could he ever show the adults in his life that he was a responsible kid after all?

Take out the garbage. Put away your toys. Clean up the table. Make your bed. The list of chores is already a long one for your child, so go ahead, add another: read “Little Shaq: Star of the Week.” That’s a task he probably won’t mind.

In this latest series book, author O’Neal turns his attention to another lesson for children to gently learn: work hard and you may get what you want. Fortunately, kids won’t find this story to be too preachy or unreachable; O’Neal’s main character admits how hard it is to be responsible and how, sometimes, it’s no fun. Even so, there’s a happy ending to this story and its illustrations by Theodore Taylor III, and kids are set up nicely for the next installment.

Though there are some big words inside this book, I think early elementary schoolers should be able to tackle it and slightly older kids will enjoy it, too. At the end of a long, hard day, “Little Shaq: Star of the Week” will make a great reward.

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