book review: Chess Rumble

Chess Rumble by Jesse Joshua Watson; illustrated by G. Neri

Lee and Low Books 2007

main character:  Marcus

Chess Rumble is a guy book. It’s written and illustrated by guys for guys with well chosen words and powerful graphics. Written in free verse style, the book uses few words and appeals to reluctant readers.  The book is called Chess Rumble, but it’s about what makes any angry guy’s chest rumble and how that rumbling too often leads him to do things he really doesn’t want to do.  

Marcus’ world falls apart when his sister dies. Buried emotions turn into dad’s disappearing and constant fighting between brothers. Things at school seem to get worse and worse as Marcus/Fat Albert/Hulk blames everyone for things going wrong. With the guidance of a caring adult, he eventually learns how to use chess to think through situations and to react less with his emotions. G Neri’s illustrations do an excellent job of pulling the reader further into the story as they intensify situations.