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My Life as a Potato by Arianne Costner – Book Review

  • Title: My Life as a Potato
  • Author: Arianne Costner
  • Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
  • Release Date: March 24, 2020

Rating: 3 Stars

Ben Hardy is the new kid. His recent move from California to Idaho is exactly what a person could imagine it to be– a shock and an adjustment. It is also a great opportunity. However, Ben’s potato curse follows him to the Potato State, and his chance to define himself before others do it for him is complicated by a hot dog throwing incident. Soon after, Ben must assume the responsibility of being the school’s mascot, Steve the Spud. As he tries to juggle his secret mascot identity, newfound popularity at school, and changing friendships, he realizes what really matters. He can only hope it isn’t too late!

Arianne Costner’s My Life as a Potato is a fun, feel-good novel. It contains common themes in middle school literature, such as identity, friendship, and the power of choices, which will make the story relatable to all that read it. The secret mascot responsibilities do stand out from other middle grade novels while putting a unique spin on Ben’s struggles. Through those struggles, My Life as a Potato captures a broad look at middle school life’s minutiae. Unfortunately, the expansive scope sacrifices depth as a result. Is this decision a bad thing? Not at all! The middle grades genre is flooded with books that tackle hard topics and challenging themes. Costner’s My Life as a Potato is a light-hearted antidote for those that need a sunnier breath of fresh air. Students will connect with Ben and his struggles, making the novel a good read for those looking for an amusing weekend read.

Classroom Applications

  • STEM Fun – Teach the novel in conjunction with fun STEM activities or science labs with potatoes.
  • Book Club or Book Exchange – Share the novel with students that enjoy reading about themes of friendship, school, and sports mascots.

Nonfiction Connections: The list below outlines topics that will enrich your students’ understanding of the novel.

  • Potatoes
  • Mascots

Book Companions: The following are great books to pair with My Life as a Potato. In parenthesis are the specific aspects students could explore when synthesizing across the texts.

  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid (Series) by Jeff Kinney (Character Connections, Themes, Cartoons!)
  • Stu Truly by Dan Richards (Character Connections, Themes)
  • Sideway Stories from Wayside School (Series) by Louis Sachar (Character Connections)

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