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The King of Average

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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, 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.

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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, 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.

30 review for The King of Average

  1. 4 out of 5

    Hannah Greendale

    Eleven-year-old James knows he’s just average, but he's decided to be the most average person. Shortly thereafter he meets Mayor Culpa, a talking goat who wears spectacles and a vest. Culpa escorts James to the Kingdom of Average, located within the Realm of Possibility where James is offered the chance to be the King of Average. But the Law of Averages state that James must first complete a task. Teaming up with Mayor Culpa, as well as Roget, a professional Optimist, and Kiljoy, a professional Eleven-year-old James knows he’s just average, but he's decided to be the most average person. Shortly thereafter he meets Mayor Culpa, a talking goat who wears spectacles and a vest. Culpa escorts James to the Kingdom of Average, located within the Realm of Possibility where James is offered the chance to be the King of Average. But the Law of Averages state that James must first complete a task. Teaming up with Mayor Culpa, as well as Roget, a professional Optimist, and Kiljoy, a professional Pessimist, James embarks on a journey of self discovery. In the same vein as The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, The King of Average is packed with puns and clever wordplay. "Follow the road south to an old resort called Disappointment Bay." "Do you know for sure he's there?" asked James. "He has to be there," Alistair predicted. "It's the last resort." He grabbed his lapels and stood proudly. "We are charged with maintaining the status quo." "Keeping things on par," avowed the second judge. "Balancing the budget," added the third woman with the thin lips. "Moderating the usual things," the fourth judge added. "Regulating the regular things," stated the fifth. "Making sure things are fair-to-middling," affirmed the sixth. "Passable," said the seventh judge. "Sort of," the eight added. "In other words," said the first," we formulate the Law of Average." However, this book also mirrors Piers Anthony's moderately offensive Xanth novels in that women generally fall into one of two categories: evil and conniving or utterly beautiful. According to his mother, James had caused all her troubles. "Oh, how I wish you were never born!" she'd moan. He didn't mean to make her so miserable, but what could he do? James didn't know what to say. Here was this strong, kind man, a victim of circumstances with a cruel wife and children he loved, confessing his failures as a man to an eleven-year-old boy. A young girl made her way through the anxious throng. She wore a tattered blue tunic over a soiled white dress. Her lank blonde hair hung to her shoulders and her long bangs came down to just above her pale gray eyes. James was struck by her loveliness; it was the first time a girl had ever struck him as pretty. Also prevalent are elements reminiscent of The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum with the advent of creatures like the Ninnies who throw worry warts or the sycophantic residents of the Flatterlands. The King of Average is a funny jaunt through a quirky and cleverly crafted world that reaches a fairly satisfying conclusion.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Bentley ★ Bookbastion.net

    Plot at a Glance Eleven year old James - the protagonist of this tale - is perfectly average at everything he does. He's not especially bright, nor clever, or particularly talented at anything. How could he forget his shortcomings with a mother who makes a hobby out of pointing them out? James has a choice: wallow in self-pity and frustration, or embrace that which he is and become the most average 11 year old boy to have ever lived. When his choice is made, James is magically transported to a n Plot at a Glance Eleven year old James - the protagonist of this tale - is perfectly average at everything he does. He's not especially bright, nor clever, or particularly talented at anything. How could he forget his shortcomings with a mother who makes a hobby out of pointing them out? James has a choice: wallow in self-pity and frustration, or embrace that which he is and become the most average 11 year old boy to have ever lived. When his choice is made, James is magically transported to a new world, full of new friends who want him to become the King of Average and James begins a new journey that may forever change the boy he sees himself as. I tip my hat to Gary Schwartz for taking what is a relatively tired trope (portal fantasy) and breathing new life into it in a debut novel. In a lot of ways this felt nostalgic, and very reminiscent of classic children's books I read during my childhood. The narrative voice in particular reminded me of the Narnia series. Regardless, the world here is filled with memorable locations and characters that feel varied and distinct. There was a lot I really liked about this story, but a few things that ultimately brought the score down a little in the end. I really want to highlight all the things I did enjoy first and foremost though. The Realm of Possibility, the land James is transported to, is a really cute, albeit heavy-handed, vehicle by which to teach children about simple psychological concepts such as state of mind, and attitude. The land itself becomes the teaching tool, with areas and locations like: ⁂ Appathia ⁂ Serenity Sea ⁂ Disappointment Bay ⁂ Median City ⁂ and a mountain range referred to as "Way Above Average" Of course the corresponding characters met within those locations serve as teaching moments for young readers while exploring a fun new world. The supporting cast are all extremely memorable, with unique voices, which is a feat most first-time authors struggle to accomplish. There's: ⁂ A talking "scapegoat," named Mayor Culpa ("Mae Culpa") ⁂ A professional optimist ⁂ and his companion, a pessimist named Kiljoy ⁂ and a few others that appear throughout. There's a lot of wordplay at work here, which certainly makes the book fun for adults to read. I do wonder though if it's a little bit too complex for middle-grade readers to pick up on some of it though, so perhaps its a bit wasted. It also gets a little bit exhausting after awhile as an adult reader, listening to polar-opposite characters bicker back and forth. It's still a neat idea though and Schwartz really uses it to guide the plot along in good measure. That being said, there was some material in here I found culturally insensitive. I think perhaps things went a bit too classic here. I also took big issue with the fact that there are only 2 prominent female characters in this book, and one of them is abusive and a villain in the story, while the other doesn't show up until nearly 60% in. Surely one of the many male characters introduced before that point could have been rewritten as a female character and nothing would have been harmed. Lastly, while things reached a reasonable end, I felt like a few plot points were left unexplained/unresolved satisfactorily. Altogether, this was a great start for a debut novelist, especially one looking to write for children. He has a unique and rarely-heard voice for an author penning work today, and I'd welcome more forays into the genre with another story by him in the future. ★★★✩✩ = 3/5 stars See this review and more on my blog: Book Bastion Thank you to the Author/Publisher for providing me a free copy to review.

  3. 5 out of 5

    monica ♪

    3.5 Stars James is an average kid. He's literally 'average' at everything. Average height, average name, average at his academic skills, etc. But he doesn't want to be just 'average'. He wants to be the most average kid who ever lived. And then suddenly he is transported to another world... And he's about to be the King of Average! This book will take you to another world where James and his new friends go for interesting adventures. The concept of this story is pretty unique. How the author named t 3.5 Stars James is an average kid. He's literally 'average' at everything. Average height, average name, average at his academic skills, etc. But he doesn't want to be just 'average'. He wants to be the most average kid who ever lived. And then suddenly he is transported to another world... And he's about to be the King of Average! This book will take you to another world where James and his new friends go for interesting adventures. The concept of this story is pretty unique. How the author named the places using some word-play is so funny. It's really nice to read about their adventures. I'm also an average person myself, so when I read the synopsis of this book, I was so intrigued. Although this is a fun, entertaining read, I find this book pretty 'average'.  I don't like how James' mother treats him. Because this is a children's book, and I think it's not a very good example for children. Also, I don't like reading English book with other foreign language in it. Too many French terms which I'm not familiar with used in this book. I don't think children will understand it as well.  Other than that, I really enjoy reading this book. Thank you NetGalley for providing me this book.  

  4. 4 out of 5

    Dianne

    Can you imagine a mother telling her young child she hates him and he has ruined her life? How much pain must be inside that woman for it to boil out like that and why? James tried to be good, to not be a burden to his mother, but it never seemed to matter. He isn’t the best kid in the world and he isn’t the worst. He is average, like most of us. Join James as he enters anther world where the land of Average needs a new king and off he goes to take the throne. Accompanying him are a scapegoat, a Can you imagine a mother telling her young child she hates him and he has ruined her life? How much pain must be inside that woman for it to boil out like that and why? James tried to be good, to not be a burden to his mother, but it never seemed to matter. He isn’t the best kid in the world and he isn’t the worst. He is average, like most of us. Join James as he enters anther world where the land of Average needs a new king and off he goes to take the throne. Accompanying him are a scapegoat, an optimist and a pessimist. Those he meets along the way will aid him in his journey to come to love himself just as he is, a special boy with value. The King of Average by Gary Schwartz will bring you to tears as one lonely and sad little boy searches for somewhere to fit in, where he is wanted and loved. His journey is of self-discovery and learning to have self-worth and to believe he can do anything he wants, if he takes the time to work for it. Meet the quirky characters of this new land, and see the lessons James is taught, designed to empower him and gain self-respect. Words and phrases we all know and use become living beings who teach James the meaning of who they are. What a wonderful way to add depth and understanding to a child’s vocabulary while gifting them with meeting a young boy who may just feel like them sometimes. Beautifully written, in a style perfect to ensure a young reader is hooked on books, the value in the lessons and understandings taught is priceless. If after reading this, one child learns to feel better about themself, then Gary Schwartz deserves the title Real Hero! Be a hero yourself, read this, give it to a young child to read or share it at bedtime together. Talk about it, get to know how a child interprets what they read, give them the gift of self-awareness and the ability to express what they feel without feeling threatened. Middlegrade reading doesn’t get any better than this. I received this ARC copy from Gary Schwartz in exchange for my honest review. Expected publication: October 13th 2015 publisher: Booktrope ISBN13 9781513703312 Paperback, 335 pages For Reviews & More: http://tometender.blogspot.com

  5. 4 out of 5

    Max Lau • Maxxesbooktopia

    That was actually pretty good! Review to come...

  6. 4 out of 5

    Aoife

    I received an e-copy of this book from the publishers in exchange for an honest review. James is an average boy. He does okay in school, but never exceeds expectations. He is not great at sports but is never picked last for teams, and even his mother doesn’t expect big things from him. Which is why James isn’t too surprised when he ends up in the land of Average and is set out on a quest to become the King of Average. This was a really fun, imaginative and fast-paced read that I really think a mi I received an e-copy of this book from the publishers in exchange for an honest review. James is an average boy. He does okay in school, but never exceeds expectations. He is not great at sports but is never picked last for teams, and even his mother doesn’t expect big things from him. Which is why James isn’t too surprised when he ends up in the land of Average and is set out on a quest to become the King of Average. This was a really fun, imaginative and fast-paced read that I really think a middle grade-aged kid will love. There are some great moments in this book, and I really think the author’s sense of humour and imagination were put to some great use in the novel. From the different people - like the Nervous Nellies and the Ninnies - to the map itself and the others lands like the Sea of Doubt, Eureka and Epiphany, the story was put together in a really brilliant way. I really loved all the characters in this, even Kiljoy, but I think Mayor Culpa - the literal ‘scapegoat’- was mine. James is a great character and I think he will appeal to children the same age as him, especially with some of the doubts he has about himself, as well as the experiences he has in the book like his overwhelming feelings for his first crush. I think this book has a great message in it, and is definitely a great book for kids and fun for adults!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Whispering Stories

    I wasn’t sure I was qualified to review a story predominantly aimed at children, so I found three people who fitted the criteria and we read the book together; so thank you to Noah, Alistair and Ralph for their input. The story is funny, engaging and imaginative and the characters intriguing. Scapegoat’s appearance was a real talking point for the boys and we all loved the concept of Roget the optimist and Kiljoy the pessimist. I particularly liked the wonderful play on words running throughout t I wasn’t sure I was qualified to review a story predominantly aimed at children, so I found three people who fitted the criteria and we read the book together; so thank you to Noah, Alistair and Ralph for their input. The story is funny, engaging and imaginative and the characters intriguing. Scapegoat’s appearance was a real talking point for the boys and we all loved the concept of Roget the optimist and Kiljoy the pessimist. I particularly liked the wonderful play on words running throughout the book and commend the author for their inclusion as these touches made the book entertaining for adult readers. I was impressed that Schwartz had weaved such an entertaining plot into his fantasy novel as a backdrop for his characters. The eclectic band of friends travelled through an imaginary land, collecting others on their way and having a variety of fascinating adventures. The boys latched onto the idea of one character ‘smelling of old gym socks’ and thought this hilarious. The story culminated with a well-constructed conclusion, which satisfied James, his friends and indeed the readers. The writing style was fluent and evenly-paced and the descriptive passages conjured up vivid pictures for the boys and at times they were particularly concerned for the well being of Mayor Culpa who continually tries to take the blame for everything. Evoking that reaction was, I imagine, exactly what the author intended. Whilst the book is extremely amusing at all levels, there are also the underlying themes of self-discovery and self-worth which I think will resonate with adults and older children. I fell in love with ‘The King of Average’ immediately, as did the boys. The wonderful disclaimer at the beginning of the book which states that anyone who objects to typos shouldn’t bother reading it, made me laugh out loud. This is a great story and I strongly recommend it as an ideal bonding-read for parents with children of seven and over. I congratulate Gary Schwartz on his début novel. He is a consummate professional with a great future as an author and I have no hesitation in awarding a very richly-deserved five stars. Reviewed by Julie at www.whisperingstories.com

  8. 5 out of 5

    Liz Pollinger

    James is a young boy whose father abandoned him and his mother constantly tells him he ruined her life. As hard as he tries he cannot seem to do anything right in his mother's eyes. He knows he is not a great kid, but he's not so bad either, he strives to be just average. So begins his quest to become The King of Average. One day he is transported to another place where he is met by quite a cast of characters including, Mayor Culpa - a scapegoat, a professional Optimist and his surly companion, James is a young boy whose father abandoned him and his mother constantly tells him he ruined her life. As hard as he tries he cannot seem to do anything right in his mother's eyes. He knows he is not a great kid, but he's not so bad either, he strives to be just average. So begins his quest to become The King of Average. One day he is transported to another place where he is met by quite a cast of characters including, Mayor Culpa - a scapegoat, a professional Optimist and his surly companion, a professional Pessimist. His journy takes him and his new friends to newfound places that are beyond belief, including, the Sea of Doubt and the Unattainable Mountains. This story is an often hilarious, sometimes sad and an action packed adventure for James as he tries to discover who he truly is and what is important in life. This book is told beautifully and conveys a wonderful message to all who read it, although is it geared to middle grade ages. I will be sharing this with three of my grandchildren and will add their reviews when done. This is my granddaughter's review (12 years old)- hi this book was ok and it was confusing. All of the idioms and euphemisms confused me. It says on the back of the book that it is hilarious but I did not find it funny. I did not know who Mayor Culpa was for about half of the book. It never really introduced what his name is so I had to call my grandma and ask her who Mayor Culpa was. I did like that there was a map and the descriptions of the characters and places were good and I could picture them in my mind. It made me realize to be very average it is very hard. I liked that Mayor Culpa did not die =).

  9. 4 out of 5

    La La

    I'm not even going to waste my time trying to explain my thoughts on this "story" because it's just brain spew. The author tried to copy the styles of Baum, Lewis, and Jeff Kinney and then mash them up thinking this is what Middle Grade aged readers will like to read. The writing is just plain awful. At first I thought it was an Adult Fiction parody of the Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland, but it's not. He used so many outdated terms and phrases the kids will be staring at the ceiling and pi I'm not even going to waste my time trying to explain my thoughts on this "story" because it's just brain spew. The author tried to copy the styles of Baum, Lewis, and Jeff Kinney and then mash them up thinking this is what Middle Grade aged readers will like to read. The writing is just plain awful. At first I thought it was an Adult Fiction parody of the Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland, but it's not. He used so many outdated terms and phrases the kids will be staring at the ceiling and picking their noses in boredom. I received a complimentary Audible copy from the author, via Audiobook Boom, in return for an honest review. I have also reviewed this as an audiobook on Audible.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Lauren Jones

    I was provided with a copy of The King of Average in exchange for an honest review. I can honestly say that this is a fantastic story! This story begins with a boy named James who believes that he is—you got it…he believes he is average. His mother shows him nothing, but disappointment and hatred when he brings hope his report card reflecting C’s. Upon finding a goat in the middle of the road one day, James becomes curious to how it got there. As he inches closer, trying not to scare the goat—bo I was provided with a copy of The King of Average in exchange for an honest review. I can honestly say that this is a fantastic story! This story begins with a boy named James who believes that he is—you got it…he believes he is average. His mother shows him nothing, but disappointment and hatred when he brings hope his report card reflecting C’s. Upon finding a goat in the middle of the road one day, James becomes curious to how it got there. As he inches closer, trying not to scare the goat—boom! The goat can talk and another wonder…the next thing that James knows, he is in another world entirely. He is then told that the King of Average has disappeared. The goat tells him that he was sent to fetch James because they need a new King. Can James become the next King of Average and leave everything behind? My favorite characters are James and Mayor Culpa, the scapegoat. James is confused, after all he is just a child. No one should ever have to go through life feeling like they are a burden to their parents, so I originally felt sympathy for James. I knew that his path would be that much more difficult, but the adventure that lay ahead is very exciting! Mayor Culpa is the best kind of character EVER! Even though this story is somewhat for a younger age group, there is a vast amount of psychology in it which I find very interesting! My least favorite character would be the mother, of course. It is saying a lot when I love almost every character, especially the professional Pessimist. The characters that travel on this adventure with James all symbolize something that he is personally feeling and that is by far one of the most creative and original ideas that I have ever read. In my opinion, I would rate this book with five stars because I loved it and thought that it fit my superb category. The author goes above and beyond with character development and descriptiveness. Each character has a very important part to play in this adventure. I would highly recommend this read to anyone who enjoys psychological and coming of age genres. The pace is steady, but very entertaining. I did not find myself having difficulty reading through this at all! I look forward to reading more by this incredible author!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sandra Stiles

    From the moment I began reading this book I had several thoughts go through my head. The first was how sorry I felt for James. As a teacher I've actually heard parents tell their kids they hated them and wished they'd never been born. I've heard them blame the father's. This book immediately resonated with me as I am sure it will with so many of my students. The author has commented that his ideas came from several places, especially his favorite book, "The Phantom Tollbooth". I can see how the w From the moment I began reading this book I had several thoughts go through my head. The first was how sorry I felt for James. As a teacher I've actually heard parents tell their kids they hated them and wished they'd never been born. I've heard them blame the father's. This book immediately resonated with me as I am sure it will with so many of my students. The author has commented that his ideas came from several places, especially his favorite book, "The Phantom Tollbooth". I can see how the worlds resemble each other. I loved this world. It is a world I was very familiar with. My students have a difficult time believing there was a time I didn't believe in myself. I considered myself no one special. I would try on occasion to better myself, only to have someone say something that made me feel like I was only average. James is whisked away to the land of Average where he is to be tested to see if he is to be their next king. I thought it funny that he wanted to excel at being average because he thought that was the best he could hope for. His journey to find out what happened to the last king will change his life in ways he never saw coming. I think this should be required reading in every class, in every school. There are so many people out there like James who need the message in this book. The funny thing is, at age 57, there were lessons I could still learn. Learning to step above seeing yourself as just average or not worth anything for some of us in some situations is an on-going process. I will definitely recommend this book to my fellow teachers and readers, and parents.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sheri J.

    I am delighted to have had the chance to be an ARC reader for this book. What fun! THE KING OF AVERAGE ranks high above the average read. The clever wordplay and humor are noteworthy, but my favorite thing about the book is its old-fashioned sense of story. And I don’t mean the ‘old-fashioned’ that’s dusty and crusty and drear. I mean that fantastic and currently rare quality of creating an atmosphere that’s so vivid you can step inside. The story comes to life before your ‘eyes’. Vibrant and some I am delighted to have had the chance to be an ARC reader for this book. What fun! THE KING OF AVERAGE ranks high above the average read. The clever wordplay and humor are noteworthy, but my favorite thing about the book is its old-fashioned sense of story. And I don’t mean the ‘old-fashioned’ that’s dusty and crusty and drear. I mean that fantastic and currently rare quality of creating an atmosphere that’s so vivid you can step inside. The story comes to life before your ‘eyes’. Vibrant and sometimes zany characters swept me away as I traveled with the very relatable and sensible James. I often review on an author’s mastery of Voice, but in this case I’d have to say Schwartz has mastered ‘Voices’- perhaps due to his extensive experience in television, film and theatre. I can hear each character speaking, as if a play was going on in my head. This is what I mean by ‘old-fashioned sense of story.’ It breathes without need of digital media. Though I can hardly wait to hear an audio book of this…especially if Schwartz reads it himself! While I have harped on the connections to rich story traditions that tie to the past, I must say the theme and moral of the story, woven through in the most enjoyable puns, are completely contemporary and valuable to both children and adults alike. It’s a rewarding journey to see James blossom, and a great reminder to keep moving forward on this wonderful journey we call life.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    The word play and humor in this book are a real joy! With characters like Mayor Culpa the scapegoat, James a purely "average" boy sets out on a quest to become the new King of Average. Filled with puns and life lessons, this story unfolds in a completely enjoyable manner, with voices and personality true to each character. This book is one that I would love to read aloud, or be read aloud to. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for redemption in being "average".

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jacki

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. *A couple really minor spoilers (I didn't mention any major ones) Rating: 3.4 stars This short fantasy was quite reminiscent of Harry Potter. James lives alone with his single mother who constantly lets him know how much of a burden he is to her and how he is completely useless and unimportant. James doesn’t really have friends at school and he knows he isn’t particularly skilled anything but also not particularly bad at anything. He feels completely average. That idea gives him solace. There’s n *A couple really minor spoilers (I didn't mention any major ones) Rating: 3.4 stars This short fantasy was quite reminiscent of Harry Potter. James lives alone with his single mother who constantly lets him know how much of a burden he is to her and how he is completely useless and unimportant. James doesn’t really have friends at school and he knows he isn’t particularly skilled anything but also not particularly bad at anything. He feels completely average. That idea gives him solace. There’s nothing so bad about being totally average, right? James is walking home from school one day and comes up with the idea that he is probably the most average person in the world. He gets excited about that idea and says it out loud. That’s when a bird swoops at him and tells him it’s not such a crazy idea. Next, a goat appears in his neighbour’s suburban yard and begins talking to James, introducing himself as Mayor Culpa. Culpa then whisks James off to the Realm of Possibility to where James will be a new contender for the throne of the Kingdom of Average. James and Culpa journey through the Realm of Possibility to get to the Kingdom of Average, meeting new quirky and lovable friends to take with them. When they arrive at the Kingdom of Average, he is allotted to the quest of finding the previous King of Average, if he succeeds at this in the same predictable way that any Average person could, then James will become the new king. James succeeds at this quest, but decides not to go straight back after finding the old King of Average and decides to reunite the old King with his family. James quickly succeeds at finding the last King’s children and takes them into his band of adventurers to pursue finding the old king once again whilst completing a number of other self discovery and exciting quests at the same time. I thought this book was a fun and whimsical read. Perfect for a middle grade class to read or for a family to sit down and dive into before bed. It’s a light hearted and touching story that can be read by anyone at anytime. In the story, it’s touching how capable James is to love his friends despite the lack of love he’s received his whole life. This book is about the power of love and friendship in the face of tribulation, and that you need people to support you. As much as I liked this book, there were some issues. Many parts of the story jump all over the place to different settings, locations and other kingdoms without enough description and it became confusing at times. This might also be because James kept taking on new quests straight after each other and magically succeeded at them all with really no conflict. There was a lack of description during their travels as well in many parts of the story which added to the confusion. There were also some spelling and grammatical errors that made me take the story less seriously. You can easily tell this is Schwartz’s debut novel as the plot organization is somewhat lacking and it seems obvious that he didn’t quite know where he was going with the story. Despite that, he wrote beautiful friendships and the dialogue was quite hilarious. The detailed descriptions also really added to the atmosphere to the book, which was super enjoyable. I loved how the story seems to explore how each of James’ friends are on a journey to find a purpose for themselves, just like he is, it was like they all needed each other’s help to find their own purposes and it was very touching. My favorite part of the story was how James chooses in the end to return home temporarily to let his mother know that he loves her, despite all that she’s done to him. He sacrifices a great offer for adventure to go home and help his mother and it shows how forgiveness for loved ones who have wronged you is so important and that you need to love others, especially in your own family, even if it seems like they don’t love you. I would totally recommend this book to anyone, especially middle grade and fantasy lovers. There are elements in the story that reminisce or seem inspired by Alice in Wonderland and Harry Potter, as I mentioned above. This is because it’s full of magic and choosing to do what is right when it seems hard. It’s a heartfelt story and suitable for anyone who loves to read about great character development and healthy relationships. I’m happy to have read it.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    James is a very average kid. He received all C's in school, he is ok at sports but not great, he gets along with other kids, but wouldn't say he has a lot of friends. One day, James has a thought and exclaims that he must be the most average person alive! James' exclamation is heard and he is approached by a not-so-average talking goat named Mayor Culpa. Mayor Culpa wants James to be the new King of Average since their former king has disappeared. Mayor Culpa transports James to the Land of Aver James is a very average kid. He received all C's in school, he is ok at sports but not great, he gets along with other kids, but wouldn't say he has a lot of friends. One day, James has a thought and exclaims that he must be the most average person alive! James' exclamation is heard and he is approached by a not-so-average talking goat named Mayor Culpa. Mayor Culpa wants James to be the new King of Average since their former king has disappeared. Mayor Culpa transports James to the Land of Average where he must complete a quest in order to become the King of Average. On his quest he is accompanied by some strange friends including his talking goat, and a duo of a Professional Pessimist and Optimist. As James explores the land of Average he is sent to such places as The Sea of Doubt, Appathia, The Flatterlands, Uppity, and Shangri-La where he might just reach Epiphany. On his journey, James will discover if he is fit to be the King of Average of if he is above average. This is a wonderful book for middle-grade readers who are probably facing a lot of the same feelings as James. Humor, word play and wonderfully imaginative characters and places created a fun and whimsical story. Some of the word play might go over younger readers heads, such as Mayor Culpa as a professional scapegoat. However, the intention of the story, for James to come into his own and deal with his emotions and feelings as they come to life as people and things will be something that any reader can relate to. I did love reading about James' adventures in the different parts of Average and exploring the places and people there. Overall, a magical and imaginative coming-of-age and character building story for middle-grade readers. This book was received for free in return for an honest review.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Patricia Hamill

    The King of Average is an adventure set in a world where the geography and its citizens are divided by just how above or below average they are. James, who is rather ordinary, gets pulled into the world when he decides he’d like to be the most average boy ever and then gets recruited for the job of King of Average. For me, the humorous characters were the biggest draw. Mayor Culpa the scapegoat is great, always shouting out that whatever it is, it is his fault. The optimist and pessimist are also The King of Average is an adventure set in a world where the geography and its citizens are divided by just how above or below average they are. James, who is rather ordinary, gets pulled into the world when he decides he’d like to be the most average boy ever and then gets recruited for the job of King of Average. For me, the humorous characters were the biggest draw. Mayor Culpa the scapegoat is great, always shouting out that whatever it is, it is his fault. The optimist and pessimist are also pretty funny the way they play off each other. Besides that, the story highlights the range of human nature and builds in some life lessons. I also enjoyed that the main character has to work for his goals and that he and his friends face real dangers on his quest. It makes for an exciting tale. As for the puns, well, I think those might be more for the adults, though the author did a good job of paraphrasing and giving context so it’s not too over the heads of the younger readers. I liked them. Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I’d recommend it to folks who like adventure and humor. It not only seemed appropriate to younger readers, but also something I’d have liked to read at that age. I received the review copy of this book from the publisher.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Charlotte

    *This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review* The story follows a boy called James who is completely average. His grades are average, his aspirations are average, his life is average; even his name is average. His mother hates that he will never achieve great things, but James has other ideas: he will be the most average person that’s ever lived. This leads him into the Realm Of Possibility where his adventures with a scapegoat, an optimist, and a pessimist take hi *This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review* The story follows a boy called James who is completely average. His grades are average, his aspirations are average, his life is average; even his name is average. His mother hates that he will never achieve great things, but James has other ideas: he will be the most average person that’s ever lived. This leads him into the Realm Of Possibility where his adventures with a scapegoat, an optimist, and a pessimist take him on a quest to be the new King of Average. This world is so cleverly put together. From the Kingdom of Average to Dullsville, to the Sea of Self Doubt and Disappointment Bay, it’s practically impossible not to laugh out loud or crack a smile at some of the witty inclusions to the world. James constantly fights with himself over doing things to help others that may violate the conduct of being average and reaches points in the narrative he has to tackle what the right course of action is based on what he’s seeking. What I really love about this story is James approach to perceptions of himself. His mother is quite mean to him and he could take that to heart in a bad way but instead he chooses to embrace himself and sets out to be the best at being… well… not the best and I think that’s a wonderful message to give to children. I only wish this had been a bit longer because the transition from the “real world” to the Realm of Possibility was far too quick. James’ average life is set up and before you have a chance to find your feet you’ve already moved on. Overall, this is a fun, light read that’s bought to put a smile on your face.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jacinta Carter

    James is a straight-C student, always lands in the middle when told to line up by height, and is never picked first or last for teams. Nothing about him sets him apart from anyone else. This makes him the perfect candidate to become the new king of a land called Average. But before taking his throne, he must first find the former king and ask why he did something so unusual as to run away from Average. Joined by a literal scapegoat, a professional optimist, and a pint-sized pessimist, James sets James is a straight-C student, always lands in the middle when told to line up by height, and is never picked first or last for teams. Nothing about him sets him apart from anyone else. This makes him the perfect candidate to become the new king of a land called Average. But before taking his throne, he must first find the former king and ask why he did something so unusual as to run away from Average. Joined by a literal scapegoat, a professional optimist, and a pint-sized pessimist, James sets out on his quest to find the old King of Average. For the most part, this middle-grade novel seemed to be a tribute to Alice in Wonderland, including meeting strange people and creatures who show up just in time to help the characters on their next leg of the journey. While it was an enjoyable, quick read, some of the characters names (for example, the scapegoat is called Mayor Culpa) seemed a bit too on the nose, as though the author thinks the readers need every metaphor and symbol spelled out for them.

  19. 4 out of 5

    K.D. Reed

    Great character friendships, with a flavor of The Phantom Tollbooth (I did receive a review copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are 100% honest and my own) Writing/Style:2/4 Character:3/4 Story:3/4 Pacing:3/4 Ending:3/4 Total: 14/20 While this book lacked the charm of The Phantom Tollbooth, it had the wonderful play on words in a magical world. My favorite part of the story was the characters. All different. All interesting. All important. I loved the friendship aspect to the story and the fun Great character friendships, with a flavor of The Phantom Tollbooth (I did receive a review copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are 100% honest and my own) Writing/Style:2/4 Character:3/4 Story:3/4 Pacing:3/4 Ending:3/4 Total: 14/20 While this book lacked the charm of The Phantom Tollbooth, it had the wonderful play on words in a magical world. My favorite part of the story was the characters. All different. All interesting. All important. I loved the friendship aspect to the story and the fun adventure. There were times when the writing bordered on "telling" the story instead of engrossing us with it, but the story itself was good. There are some big words I'm not sure a middle grade reader would all the way understand, but I liked that it had some challenge to it. Good read.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Raul

    The title sums up how I felt about this book. It was average for me. I enjoyed some of the characters, but from the begining I was disturbed by how the mother treated her son. Lines like "I wish you were never born" are ones that I personally never get along with, and no matter how much I tried enjoying the rest of the book, I was continually bothered by those phrases. Ive also read more middle grade with better writing and; no pun intended, I felt that it was just average, although the author e The title sums up how I felt about this book. It was average for me. I enjoyed some of the characters, but from the begining I was disturbed by how the mother treated her son. Lines like "I wish you were never born" are ones that I personally never get along with, and no matter how much I tried enjoying the rest of the book, I was continually bothered by those phrases. Ive also read more middle grade with better writing and; no pun intended, I felt that it was just average, although the author established an interesting world.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Teresa

    James is an average boy who lives with a mother that says “she ruined his life” and a father that left. He just wants to be loved. In this fantasy book, James is on a quest to be just that, “average” and be the best at being average, therefore becoming King of Average. He meets a scapegoat who helps him along the way and takes the blame for anything that goes wrong even though it is not his fault. In this quest to become King of Average, James has to find the old King to find out why he left. Th James is an average boy who lives with a mother that says “she ruined his life” and a father that left. He just wants to be loved. In this fantasy book, James is on a quest to be just that, “average” and be the best at being average, therefore becoming King of Average. He meets a scapegoat who helps him along the way and takes the blame for anything that goes wrong even though it is not his fault. In this quest to become King of Average, James has to find the old King to find out why he left. There are many puns and idioms in the book that may have to be explained for the younger middle grade reader to “get it” but it really makes the book funny. James meets an optimist and a pessimist who travels along with him on this quest. The group meets “ninnies” and “nervous nellies”. There are travels to Disappointment Bay, Lake Inferior, Sea of Doubt, Mount Impossible, Epiphany, and many other places that allude to feelings. We all have goals in life and James did not want to be spectacular, he just wanted to be average. This book, through James’ journey, proves to children that it is okay to be average but still keep true to themselves. What an adventure!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Gmr

    I was rather fond of this story from start to finish. The word play is out of control, the characters memorable, and the tale being spun, fantastic enough to draw you in while heartfelt enough to surprise even the most everyday of readers. It was SO ROUGH having to see James treated the way he was, but I was so happy to see him hang on with BOTH hands to the family he's found, motley crew though it may be. Despite being all about average-ness, the quest was on the extraordinary side as they trav I was rather fond of this story from start to finish. The word play is out of control, the characters memorable, and the tale being spun, fantastic enough to draw you in while heartfelt enough to surprise even the most everyday of readers. It was SO ROUGH having to see James treated the way he was, but I was so happy to see him hang on with BOTH hands to the family he's found, motley crew though it may be. Despite being all about average-ness, the quest was on the extraordinary side as they traversed lands never seen, faced dangers unknown, and a finally dealt with how to get past our biggest enemy, ourselves. Overall, a great read. You'll be kept on your toes by this average (or not so) bunch while silently thanking the stars that you're on the outside looking in. One bit of caution though, there are quite a few dangerous situations with tough consequences, but with a little guidance, I think the intended audience will make its acquaintance rather easily and the lessons learned, last a lifetime. ***copy received for review; full post can be seen on my site***

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ms. Yingling

    Decline to comment.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Erica Robyn

    The King of Average by Gary Schwartz is a story filled with adventure, a talking goat and other intriguing characters, and locations with very interesting names. This book was also packed with lessons about growing up and figuring out your purpose. I loved the plot of self-discovery. For a middle grade novel, this topic is certainly very important! The characters were all so fun and different! For example, there was Mayor Culpa, a "scapegoat" that took the blame for everything. And there was Mons The King of Average by Gary Schwartz is a story filled with adventure, a talking goat and other intriguing characters, and locations with very interesting names. This book was also packed with lessons about growing up and figuring out your purpose. I loved the plot of self-discovery. For a middle grade novel, this topic is certainly very important! The characters were all so fun and different! For example, there was Mayor Culpa, a "scapegoat" that took the blame for everything. And there was Monsieur William Roget, the optimist, and Kiljoy, the pessimist, who were constantly trying to make the situation better or worse, depending. There were also the Nervous Nellies and the Ninnies, both tribes of very small people. How fun! The overall location, the Realm of Possibility, was so interesting to me! I loved that the names of the regions were all titled in the same fashion. There was the Flatterlands, Eureka, Lake Superior, Epiphany, the Unattainables, and so on, each of which had it's own positive or negative connotation. Eureka was one of my favorites! I loved that in this region you could literally go into a mine and dig for what you were seeking. Overall, the play on words was by far my favorite element! It was so much fun to learn about new people or locations. This book was certainly very well thought out, and it shows in the writing! My favorite passages: A real live goat! The neighborhood had its share of dogs and cats, but never any farm animals. Especially one in fancy clothes! Somehow, in a flicker of an instant, everything had changed. His shiny black mustache was well groomed and thin. It was tightly wound and waxed at the ends, so much so that it looked like checkmarks framing the man's long nose. "Giddyap!" said James. "What's 'giddyap'?" asked the mayor. "It's how we tell animals to get a move on where I come from," explained James. "Oh," said the mayor. "We just say 'let's go.'" "Well, let's go, then," said James, urging the goat forward. The butterflies in his stomach were zooming around like jet planes. Did giving voice to you innermost desires make things happen? If so, he'd consider saying a lot more things. "Wwrawwk! How should I know? I'm no fortune-teller!" said the bird. "I'm instinctual." "You can say that again!" said Kiljoy, pinching his nose. "Phewww-wee!" James watched him pull back into his shell like a stubborn turtle, refusing to hear another word n the subject. James took a sip of juice and sighed. He just was. And, for the moment, that was enough. My final thoughts: Overall, I did enjoy this read. I really loved the names of the groups of characters as well as the locations. I appreciated all of the lessons and such, but unfortunately I think I was just too far outside of the target audience to really love this one. Of course, that being said, if I had picked this up when I was younger, I think I would have enjoyed it more. If you're looking for a great book for a middle-grade reader, I would definitely recommend this one! I know it will definitely be one that I recommend from time to time when someone is looking for a book at this level!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Indigo Crayon

    I was provided with a free copy of the ebook in exchange an honest review. 2.5 or 3 I'm not going too deep into a review here since I was sent it for my YT channel and I'm going to do most of it there, but I'll share some of my thoughts here as well: I enjoyed seeing the main character's character growth. There is so much in this book that you could discuss with a child who is reading this or if you're reading this in a classroom. A lot of this book's humor comes from playing on words, especially i I was provided with a free copy of the ebook in exchange an honest review. 2.5 or 3 I'm not going too deep into a review here since I was sent it for my YT channel and I'm going to do most of it there, but I'll share some of my thoughts here as well: I enjoyed seeing the main character's character growth. There is so much in this book that you could discuss with a child who is reading this or if you're reading this in a classroom. A lot of this book's humor comes from playing on words, especially in The Realm of Possibility. It can be fun for kids who get it, but some of it might fly a little over certain readers' heads. Of course, I work with much younger kids than the audience this is aimed for I think, so I'm always thinking things like that. I do still think that there are kids for whom some of these phrases will seem outdated and therefore they won't understand the play on words. While I'm all about nontraditional families being represented, I'm a little concerned about how things went here in terms of how interpersonal relationships were discussed and represented. I guess in general, how parent/child relationships are represented. I felt like the former King of Average was forgiven much too easily and James never seemed to reach an understanding of why the former King's children would have such a long journey to go through before being able to forgive their father. I know James has his own familial love issues going on, but like.. still. Also I'm fine with reading a story in which a child has a bad mother (even without the author sticking in an explanation at the end to provide some sort of background on why she's this way, I would've been fine) but like, when this mother and another bad wife/mother are the two main adult female representations in a book, it's a little concerning. The former King of Average's wife had legitimate concerns and yet I feel like she was painted so negatively! And he was painted so positively despite doing genuinely negative things! So the only "good" female character here is James's love interest. But to give credit to the author, Marie (the girl James has a crush on) does get lots talked about her that's not directly connected to James's interest in her, so that's there. I thought the combination of the yurts, the illustration for the first chapter about Epiphany, and the names of the monks left a bad taste in my mouth. Because it felt like we were supposed to get an Asian tinge to it all but then... he used weird/silly names like Yee-Ha or whatever and its like... okay... didn't anyone think... that's not.. okay ?? why would you do this ???? it was published in 2015 like......... Sometimes the writing was awkward but I did still want to find out what happened next and I kept reading.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Tonja Drecker

    Quirky and clever—this adventure is packed full of smart humor, tons of unexpected twists and things to think about along the way. James is average, as average as average can be. When he runs into a speaking goat, his averageness seems to be endangered until he's swept away to Average itself and is recruited to become the next king. Still, he needs to prove himself truly average-worthy, and this takes him on a journey unlike any he could have ever imagined. This book offers an amazing mixture of f Quirky and clever—this adventure is packed full of smart humor, tons of unexpected twists and things to think about along the way. James is average, as average as average can be. When he runs into a speaking goat, his averageness seems to be endangered until he's swept away to Average itself and is recruited to become the next king. Still, he needs to prove himself truly average-worthy, and this takes him on a journey unlike any he could have ever imagined. This book offers an amazing mixture of fantasy, adventure and word play with tons of meanings poking underneath. It's got depth, tons of it, and packages all the philosophy in an entertaining line of whimsical characters and imaginative situations. Every step of James' journey brings him not only through the strange realm but past a stepping stone in his own development and self-recognition. The first pages introduce James as a super average boy. It's not shown but directly, without shame, stated. Interestingly enough, the statements that he's average don't really match with his daily life, which is, in many ways, not average. He's at school but so 'average' he's invisible. He's so 'average' he has no friends. And his life is so 'average' that his mother is—simply said—a massive jerk and doesn't love him much at all. The first pages came across as forcing a mold into readers' heads which may very well be a subtle set-up and thinking point. Because this book packs a ton of those. Either way, too little time is spent on James' 'average' life before the Mayor (speaking goat) and the quirky adventure begins, and that is too bad. The rest of the book is a treat. Lots of wonderful situations arise, and it's simply fun to see what comes next. That each new character and each situation is actually a play on words isn't really a secret. Some of it is great for kids and will have them thinking; other moments will probably go over their heads. The vocabulary is not 'average', and instead, pushes readers to broaden their knowledge even if they won't understand every single term. And there is one character who speaks phrases of French, which is lovely and especially interesting for kids. However, more translations might have been helpful at times. The odd adventure is exactly what readers will love and opens the door to all sorts of possibilities. It's not only fun but offers tons of topics to think about—even for adults. I received a complimentary copy and enjoyed this quirky world mixed with thought enough to want to leave my honest opinion.

  27. 5 out of 5

    DubaiReader

    A middle-grade adventure story with some clever word-plays. This is going to be a difficult review to write as I'm not quite sure how I feel about this audiobook. It was a middle-grade adventure story with a large number of word-plays and puns, that seemed to be more directed at adult readers; yet the adventure itself was more suited for a younger audience. The audio version was expertly read by the actor, turned author, Gary Schwartz. James is an average kid, with a mother who is too busy to give A middle-grade adventure story with some clever word-plays. This is going to be a difficult review to write as I'm not quite sure how I feel about this audiobook. It was a middle-grade adventure story with a large number of word-plays and puns, that seemed to be more directed at adult readers; yet the adventure itself was more suited for a younger audience. The audio version was expertly read by the actor, turned author, Gary Schwartz. James is an average kid, with a mother who is too busy to give him any time and who claims he should never have been born. Not surprising then, that he has identity issues and a lack of confidence. He decides he must be the most average boy alive - average in school, in sports and in all other areas of his life, in fact, he could be the King of Average. Thus begins an adventure where James must perform certain tasks to prove how average he is and thence take on the crown of a country known as The Kingdom of Average. Along with a crowd of friends that includes a pessimist, an optimist and a scapegoat, who always takes the blame, he travels through countries such as Epiphany, via The Sea of Doubt to Mount Impossible, the highest peak in the Unattainable Mountains. This is a strongly moral story, but how many children are going to stop to think about the book's message once the narrative ends? In my opinion, the target audience is teachers who are looking for a book to read aloud to their class, that also has some interest for them by way of the word plays and puns. My thanks to Gary Schwartz, Audiobook Boom and Audible, who gave me this audiobook in exchange for an honest review.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jill Jemmett

    This is a very cute middle grade story. It reminded me of The Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland. James travels through the land of Average, much like Dorothy and Alice travelled through their magical lands. James also encountered many strange creatures just like them. There are countless puns and jokes in this story. The names, such as Kiljoy the pessimist and Mayor Culpa the scapegoat, were funny. Some of the names of the places they visited included The Sea of Doubt and Lake Inferior. These n This is a very cute middle grade story. It reminded me of The Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland. James travels through the land of Average, much like Dorothy and Alice travelled through their magical lands. James also encountered many strange creatures just like them. There are countless puns and jokes in this story. The names, such as Kiljoy the pessimist and Mayor Culpa the scapegoat, were funny. Some of the names of the places they visited included The Sea of Doubt and Lake Inferior. These names would be entertaining for the young readers, as well as their parents who may read the book with them. I enjoyed the illustrations in the story. I wish there were more. Since there were many unusual things in the story, pictures would have helped me imagine what was going on. I didn’t like that James and Jerome’s names were so similar. I kept mixing them up. Their similarity draws attention to their similar situations. But it was confusing sometimes when I was reading. I really liked this story. It’s a funny read for middle grade readers!

  29. 4 out of 5

    C.P. Cabaniss

    3.5 stars. This is a really cleverly thought out story about a boy who believes that he can't do anything right and decides to become the most average person in the world. The characters in the story are all quite fun and the narration adds a nice voice for each of them. Killjoy was one of my favorites. The world that James is thrust into is quite fascinating. With places like Average, Uppity, and the Flatter Lands things are bound to be interesting. I kept thinking about how clever the naming an 3.5 stars. This is a really cleverly thought out story about a boy who believes that he can't do anything right and decides to become the most average person in the world. The characters in the story are all quite fun and the narration adds a nice voice for each of them. Killjoy was one of my favorites. The world that James is thrust into is quite fascinating. With places like Average, Uppity, and the Flatter Lands things are bound to be interesting. I kept thinking about how clever the naming and events that take place in each location were. It was imaginative but completely accessible to a wide audience of readers. Overall this was a fun middle grade novel. The ending was a little abrupt, but otherwise it flowed fairly well. This would be an enjoyable read for many readers. *An audio version of this novel was provided by the author upon request. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.*

  30. 5 out of 5

    Donna

    Funny, interesting read and an interesting story line. James is an average child. Deciding to become the best average child takes him to another world, the land of Average, where he is nominated to be King. But first, he needs to find the former King. His quest takes him through many lands and he meets many characters such as the scapegoat, the Mayor Culpa, and a professional optimist. He travels through the Sea of Doubt and the Unattainable Mountains. Would make for a good read aloud - would le Funny, interesting read and an interesting story line. James is an average child. Deciding to become the best average child takes him to another world, the land of Average, where he is nominated to be King. But first, he needs to find the former King. His quest takes him through many lands and he meets many characters such as the scapegoat, the Mayor Culpa, and a professional optimist. He travels through the Sea of Doubt and the Unattainable Mountains. Would make for a good read aloud - would lead to much discussion about how we label people and things.

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