Alone in a Crowd: A Review of The Fantastic Family Whipple

Whipple Book Cover

What if everyone you knew had an amazing talent - from your four-year-old siblings, to your family pet, to your parents, who can't help but be disappointed in your extreme lack of special skills?

This is the case for poor Arthur Whipple, the least fantastic member of the fantastic family Whipple, in the book of the same name by Matthew Ward.  Born into a family of record-breaking prodigies, Arthur feels more than useless as he tries to break record after record, and finds himself left only with a "failure quotient" meticulously measured by his father, and a Leap-Year birthday that is as under-celebrated as the boy himself.

Family Whipple

 But Arthur is far from talent-less.  There is no one as kindhearted as he, no one as willing to help others, to step in and save them when they need it most.  Can Arthur develop these skills into something that will make his family proud?

This book is an adventurous romp through world records - from the athletic to the absurd.  Between trying to conquer the Longest Time to Stand on One Foot and the World's Densest Birthday Cake, Arthur tries to discover who he is, what he's good at, and how he can fit in with a family of geniuses who seem always to be disappointed in him.

I recommend this book to anyone who has ever felt out of place. To those who can't seem to find their talents.  To anybody who wants to make a difference in the world, but can't quite figure out how to do it.  And if you're intrigued by world records, sneaky plots, mysteries, friendship, not fitting in, and the spookiness of clowns, this book is also for you!  Target reading level: 6th - 9th grade.