Review: The King of Average by Gary Schwartz

the king of average by gary schwartz

James isn’t the world’s greatest kid, but he’s not the worst, either: he’s average! When he decides to become the most average kid who ever lived, James is transported to another world where he meets Mayor Culpa, a well-dressed talking Scapegoat who recruits him to become the new King of Average.

He’s joined on his quest by a professional Optimist and his grouchy companion, an equally professional Pessimist. Together, they set out on a journey of self-discovery that leads them all the way from the Sea of Doubt to Mount Impossible, the highest peak in the Unattainable Mountains. When James stumbles into a Shangri-la called Epiphany, he uncovers the secret of who he really is.

Follow James on his hilarious, adventure-packed journey to find self-worth in this heartfelt middle grade novel The King of Average by debut author Gary Schwartz.

Description taken from Goodreads.


If you want to get kids into books like The Phantom Tollboth but you feel like it’s a little dated, then you should try The King of Average. It’s got all the humor and heart of TPT without feeling old, and it has a lot of clever wordplay in it. I found myself really enjoying the adventures of James, and I loved his growth as a character. This story has a few great lessons to teach about feeling average and finding out what makes a person unique, but without being trite or sappy.

I would still hesitate on recommending The King of Average only because this is meant for middle-grade readers and the parents in this book are pretty bad, especially the mom. She’s a terrible example and actually very mean to James.

Other than that, I loved this novel and will be rereading it just for all the cute and clever moments. While the narrative itself is pretty simple, getting to know James and his word-based friends made the story worth reading. 3.5 stars.

pg count for the paperback: 335

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