by Rodman Philbrick
New York : Random House/Listening Library, p2005 (original copyright 1993).
Max describes himself as just a butthead before Kevin moved down the street. He lives with his grandparents in a room in a basement, or the "Down Under," keeps growing like crazy, and goes to LD classes. Then Kevin moves in. Max remembers him as "Freak" from daycare, a brilliant boy who's crippled by a body which grows on the inside, and not out. When these two boys begin a friendship, they become "Freak the Mighty."
When the audiobook I was listening to stopped working in my car CD player, I needed to find a fast replacement for my daily commute. This book had been on my radar since it was on the school summer reading lists, so I nabbed it at work. Elden Henson narrates; his name might sound familiar either from the Mighty Ducks movies or from the movie based on this book, "The Mighty." Max's voice will always sound like his in my head now. It took a little getting used to, but the narration was pitch-perfect for Max and his point of view. I enjoyed the characters, Max and Kevin (I can't help but think of him as "Freak" because that's how Max refers to him), as the two very different boys grow to be friends and go on "quests." Though the book is nearly 20 years old, it ages well with few references to outdated technology. I have a hard time explaining what the story is about without giving anything away, but it touches on friendship and family, truth and remembrance. It's not a story to give to kids impatient for stories to start off with a bang, but if they don't mind one that unfolds a bit slower, it's hugely rewarding.