Iggy The Legend
“Iggy continues to be Iggy. He’s a well-intentioned troublemaker who never seems to think two (or even one) step(s) ahead of what might happen if he does whatever he’s going to do anyway.”
Iggy continues to be Iggy. He’s a well-intentioned troublemaker who never seems to think two (or even one) step(s) ahead of what might happen if he does whatever he’s going to do anyway.
In Iggy the Legend, the fourth book in Annie Barrows’ popular Iggy series, he’s in classic form. His best friend Diego has a brand-new treehouse and is now charging all his friends $11.60 to join his treehouse club—$11.60 that Iggy doesn’t have. Serendipitously, Iggy discovers a bag of teeth (yes, teeth!) that seems to solve all his money problems. Who would have thought a) someone would randomly lose a bag of teeth, and b) a kid could figure out a way to make money from said bag?
Like other award winning, bestselling Barrows’ books, this one is full of silly plot points (again, a bag of teeth), memorable characters, and even hilarious asides like when Iggy tells the reader this: “Yes, everyone who knows Iggy* [and then the reader is treated to a long list of exceptions] would tell you he is a good kid who follows the rules, when he knows about them.”
Barrows also includes clever pacing with several half chapters that Iggy uses to prove his point that he shouldn’t be blamed for his bad behavior. At one point she gives the reader some pausing ellipses while Iggy is sent to his room for having admitted to using fart spray on his sister’s comforter. Again, the book is filled with some truly funny moments.
Illustrator Sam Ricks’ expressive illustrations also win the day. The chicken pages are The. Best.
That said, Chapter 1 requires sophisticated reading. It’s a confusing list of examples as to why Iggy isn’t guilty of something that’s pretty bewildering in and of itself. The first time out, it might be just baffling enough for readers to shake their heads, close the book, and pick up a video game. Lovers of Iggy books, though, will no doubt plug along, knowing that the silliness will make sense. Later. Much later. Like on the second time through the book.
The conclusion is also problematic in that in the very end, the Blame Reassignment Commission (hummm . . . wonder who’s chairing this?) assigns only 3% of the blame on Iggy rather than the previously assumed 100%. It’s quite funny even though it’s unnervingly close to real life in the adult world. In fact, the ending would be a great discussion starter except books like these typically don’t get a chance to be discussed. So young readers will walk away thinking perhaps they should be more creative, too, in how they explain away their own misdeeds.
But even more problematic than the confusing first chapter or the annoying ending is the behavior of the characters themselves. Yes, kids love books where the characters are snarky to their siblings, friends, and especially their enemies. Yet one wonders if this style of humor normalizes or maybe even encourages nastiness at home and on the playground. After all, when Diego tells his little brother to “shut up, you little stinker,” some kids will love it because that’s exactly what they (want to) say to little brothers. Unless, of course, they’re the little brother and they feel miserable when their big brother tells them to shut up and calls them a stinker. If Iggy says or does something rude (ahem, the fart spray), it’s funny, so it must be fine. Right?
In this climate of I-don’t-like-this-book-so-no-one-can-read-this-book banning mindset, it needs to be clearly stated: this is in NO WAY a suggestion to ban books with this style of humor. Rather, teachers and parents should have the fun of reading books like this with kids because they are entertaining and will hopefully trigger a love of reading that will get kids to pick up the next book and the book after that. But they should also be accompanied by a conversation about behaviors and values, which could be the most important takeaway of all from Iggy the Legend.