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Stink: The Ultimate Thumb-Wrestling Smackdown

Review

Stink: The Ultimate Thumb-Wrestling Smackdown

written by Megan McDonald, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds

As usual, Stink is quite excited to be receiving his report card. Report Card Day happens to be one of his favorite school days. He's tempted to take a peek at his wonderful grades, but his teacher reminds him that he can only open the envelope with a parent present. The anticipation is almost too much to bear, but Stink finally makes it home with his report card envelope intact. At home, with both parents admiring his many "Outstandings", Stink asks when they're going to hang it on the fridge in the Moody Hall of Fame. That's when he notices a certain stunned silence from his parents, who have quit smiling. Stink can't believe his eyes. He has gotten an "Unsatisfactory" grade in Physical Education!

When Stink protests that he loves sports, Judy points out that he loves "sports" such as driving his racecar bed, collecting baseball cards, and watching games on television. Stink replies that he is small for his age and could easily be damaged in a real-life game, but his parents request that he find a sport he wants to play. They point out that he needs exercise, fresh air and fun --- all things he'll be able to enjoy when he finds the sport he likes.

So Stink goes looking for a sport he would enjoy. He browses through a variety of possible activities (illustrated to great effect in one of several cartoon panels throughout the book). But he eventually says no to pogo badminton, tuna-tossing, cheese-rolling, unicycle hockey, and other unique sports. Then he learns that thumb-wrestling is the latest craze. He doesn't have to buy equipment and can play it anywhere. Hmm, out of all those choices, this one is sticking out like a (sorry) sore thumb!

Stink watches several thumb-wrestling competitions. He practices on himself, and learns the great names for the sport's moves, such as "Santa's Little Helper" and "Snake in the Grass." Then he challenges his friend Webster to a thumb duel: "One, two, three, four, I declare a thumb war!" Unfortunately, Webster (rather easily) wins. Stink tries again. The boys battle left-handed; Webster wins. Stink attempts every tricky move he's learned; Webster wins. Although he's a bit disheartened by losing multiple times, Stink perks up when they decide to make masks for their thumbs, to make their fighting digits appear scary. He is a wealth of intriguing trivia facts about the sport. But even with his "Shark Hammersmash" thumb mask on and with all of his knowledge, his sister still beats him at thumb wrestling!

Shark Hammersmash continues to battle other thumbs, along with his losing streak. One of his games even results in Stink landing in big trouble due to poor timing of a competition (which took place when the class was supposed to be studying). Stink is so frustrated that he snaps a pencil right in half…and that makes him ponder his own strength and the possibility that maybe he should be taking up a different sport: karate.

While the lively plot and likable main character keep readers turning pages, they'll also enjoy a bonus in subtly educational facts about both thumb-wrestling and karate. The ending is both realistic and deeply satisfying. All in all, this is another thoroughly enjoyable Stink adventure.

Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon on March 8, 2011

Stink: The Ultimate Thumb-Wrestling Smackdown
(Stink #6)
written by Megan McDonald, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds