Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: FANGBONE: THIRD GRADE BARBARIAN by Michael Rex

Received this as an ARC and before I could even get a good look at it, my own household fourth grader (Colonel Mustard) gobbled it up in one sitting. That’s always a good endorsement, since Colonel Mustard very rarely actually sits. Even at the dinner table! But that’s another post, perhaps . . . :-)

Fangbone’s an under-appreciated/overlooked warrior from Skullbania, who, in guarding the evil toe of Drool from Drool’s henchmen who are trying to put the villain back together, ends up in a contemporary special ed classroom. Much funniness ensues.

A teensy, wee bit of me wishes that the “third grade” part was not so obvious in this book, but I’m hopeful that the rest–jokes about fur underwear and hound-snakes!–will be enough of a draw for my students in the higher graders. After all, it definitely was for Colonel Mustard.

2 Comments for “Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: FANGBONE: THIRD GRADE BARBARIAN by Michael Rex”


Thanks for weighing in, Mike! I have to admit, I was curious about the editorial discussion about that–I just had a similar one about my own upcoming book/cover. And I do think you’re right: Fangbone and Co. most definitely belong in third grade. :-)

In fact, this conversation has me wondering if it’s really adults who perpetuate the “kids won’t read down” or “boys won’t read about girls” myths. Because, when I think about it, it’s not actually what I see in my library. I have tons of boys who check out BABYMOUSE, and Cynthia Lord’s and Grace Lin’s books–and fifth graders who adore reading CLEMENTINE and JUST GRACE and ALVIN HO. Hmmmm.


Hi. Thanks for the nice review. You know, my editor and I discussed the “third grade” part for a long time. We wanted a title that spelled out exactly what the character and the book were about. We debated about every grade, and the pros and cons of each. First? Too young. Fifth? Too old. Even if it said fifth, would some fifth graders find it too youngish? Would first graders be able to read it? “Elementary School Barbarian” just didn’t have the right ring to it. I think, for all purposes, Third Grade works. Surprisingly, I’ve had feedback from other kids, up to fifth and sixth grade, who like the books. Thanks for taking the time to write about it.–Mike Rex