Author: Gary Soto
Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Themes: Coming of Age, Transitions
Age Range: 5th-8th Grade
Summary: from Goodreads
On his thirteenth birthday, Ronnie woke up feeling like a chimp--all long armed, big eared, and gangly. He's been muddling through each gawky day since. Now his best friend, Joey, has turned thirteen, too--and after Joey humiliates himself in front of a cute girl, he climbs a tree and refuses to come down. So Ronnie sets out to woo the girl on Joey's behalf. After all, teenage chimps have to stick together.
If you are looking for a book that will appeal to tween boys, I suspect this could be it. The only word I can think of to describe this book is awkward. Not the writing, not the plot, but certainly the mood. But then, I suppose that's the point. Being a tween is awkward, for girls and boys. Never having been a tween boy can only guess at how accurate Soto is about the feelings Ronnie and Joey are having, but having worked with teens at church for the last 15 years I can at least pay witness to the physical manifestations-gawky, clumsy, body parts out of proportion with each other.
I must admit to not getting into this book, but then it wasn't written for me. I think that boys will find a main character in Ronnie that they can relate to. He's smart, funny, and not afraid to laugh at himself. He is a good friend, and puts his own feelings aside to help his fellow chimp, Joey, meet the girl of his dreams. But most of all, he shows that even though boys turn into chimps on their thirteenth birthday, there is hope for them in the end.