The Greatest Kid in the World by John David Anderson -- Blog Tour

This is the end of a very busy school year for me, but I'm always thrilled to make time to read and celebrate new releases by John David Anderson! 

From the beloved author of Posted comes the story of Zeke Stahls—a thoroughly average twelve-year-old who somehow finds himself in a competition to be named the World's Greatest Kid.

Zeke Stahls is not the best kid in the world. Some days he struggles just to be good. He'd rather be pulling pranks than doing extra credit, and he's too busy performing experiments on his little brother, Nate, or tormenting his older sister, Jackie, to volunteer for charity.

Which is why Zeke and his entire family are shocked when they receive word that he has been selected as a contestant in an online competition to find the World's Greatest Kid.

Zeke has no idea how he was chosen for this, and he knows that measuring up to the other nominees--a saintly lineup of selfless, charming and talented do-gooders with photogenic smiles and hearts of gold--is hopeless. Still, with a $10,000 cash prize on the line, and Zeke's mom struggling to hold the family together on her single-parent salary, he decides to give it his best shot.

As Zeke concocts various plots to show the world just how “great” he is, however, he finds himself wondering what that word even means, and who gets to decide. And what kind of kid he wants--and needs--to be.

My Thoughts:

As I always eagerly anticipate, this is a book filled with humor and heartstring pulling. Anderson is so good at creating characters that my nurturing teacher heart wants to have in my classrooms, even though Zeke would clearly be a handful. 

I have had many students in my career who could have this same thing said about them -- "incredibly smart. Very creative. But he has a mischievous mind. He schemes." (pg 15). If you take the time to look deeply into these children, there is so often a tenderness inside. A desire to lead. I've had countless conversations with parents where I talk about helping that child learn to harness that creativity and leadership power for good!

Zeke is no exception. Over the course of the story, we gradually learn a little bit more about his life and family. We see his big sister Jackie (the character I identify with the most) taking on responsibility for family duties. We see his loving but overworked mother hanging in there as she tries her best to support her family. We see his adorable little brother Nate gaze adoringly at Zeke - which is a major motivation for Zeke's tender side. Zeke is creative. He's a risk-taker. He has a soft heart, too. My favorite scenes included the ones where he was doing crazy stunts AND the ones where he thought the camera was off and he showed incredible gentleness and kindness. 

One thing I think kids will really identify with in the story is the theme of being that "always judged, always online" generation. Zeke feels that pressure even before the contest puts him into the social media spotlight. There is a huge expectation for kids to perform for "likes" and they always know someone is watching. It makes things very different for kids from my own Gen X childhood!

Overall, this is a great middle grade read. It has a beautiful mix of fun and depth. Definitely put it on your list for your students and classrooms!

There is a teacher's guide for Greatest Kid I've linked here. It includes pre-reading, chapter by chapter, and post reading ideas for discussion. It also highlights some of the great vocabulary he uses in the book and gives a few fun extension ideas. 

Check out other books by John David Anderson that I've posted about on my blog:

Homebound (sequel to Stowaway)

One Last Shot
Finding Orion

Dungeoneers (Q&A) . Dungeoneers (fun author post)
Sidekicked (review) . Sidekicked (fun author post)

About the Author:

John David Anderson is the author of many highly acclaimed books for kids, including the New York Times Notable Book Ms. Bixby’s Last Day, Posted, Granted, One Last Shot, and Stowaway. A dedicated root beer connoisseur and chocolate fiend, he lives with his wonderful wife, two frawesome kids, and clumsy cat, Smudge, in Indianapolis, Indiana. You can visit him online at

Other blogs participating in the tour:

May 9

Nerdy Book Club


May 9

Unleashing Readers


May 10

Teachers Who Read


May 11

Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers


May 13

Maria's Melange


May 15



May 15



May 16

A Library Mama


May 30

A Foodie Bibliophile in Wanderlust



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