Slob by Ellen Potter


Bibliographic Information: Potter, E. (2009). Slob. Scholastic Inc.: New York, NY.

Plot Description:

Owen, a 12-year-old genius cannot see his true potential because of this weight. Because he is the fattest kid at school, students and even the gym teacher at school are constantly bullying him. Struggling to discover what happened to his parent years ago, he decides to use his brain and build a TV that shows the past, which he calls Nemesis. Over the course of the story, the truth behind Owen’s parents is revealed. The reader learns, two years before, his were shot and killed. After hearing the shots, Owen decided to protect his sister instead of aiding his parents. He is haunted by his decision, and this in turn causes him to over eat. With the help of his friends, Owen learns to let go of his anger and focuses on being a happy kid, and realizes several important lessons along the way. Owen discovers, “That no matter how large he is on the outside, he doesn’t have to feel small on the inside.”

Quantitative Reading Level:

Lexile Level: HL740L (High-Low; good for struggling or reluctant readers); ATOS Book Level: 5.0; AR Points: 7.0; Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease: 85

Qualitative Reading:

Slob is moderately complex when using the Qualitative Measures Rubric. The text structure may be difficult to understand at times because there is a storyline underneath the one that is directly given. Own has issues hidden away, and while the reader does not know at first what those are, they are aware something in the past happened to make Owen behave the way he does. The language features words that are mostly contemporary and familiar to a student between grades 5-8. Sentence structure varies, but the story does not contain overly complicated structures. For example, “Ten minutes after the boat set sail, I forgot all about the naked puppets and all I could think about was Gilligan’s Island” (p. 110). The text also contains figurative language that would be understood at the appropriate grade level, “But then I remembered that Mr. Woody was a few fries short of a Happy Meal” (p.12). The meaning of the theme is clear but is not conveyed directly. Students will be able to relate and understand many things that the characters experience throughout the story. The knowledge demands are minimal because the events are common to many readers.

Content Area:

English Language Arts

Content Area Standards:

(Reading standards for 5th according to the ATOS and Lexile Levels)

  1. Quote accurately from a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text
  2. Determine the theme of a story…including how characters in a story…respond to challenges…summarize the text
  3. Compare and contrast two or more characters, setting, or events in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text
  4. Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text
  5. Explain how a series of chapters, scenes, or stanzas fit together to provide the overall structure of a particular story
  6. Describe how the narrator’s or speaker’s point of view influences how events are described
  7. By the end of the year, read and comprehend literature…at the high end of the grades 4-5 text complexity band independently and proficiently.

Supporting Digital Content: Bullying Prevention, Teaching tolerance, Lesson Resources

Curriculum Suggestions:

This book could be a supplemental reading for several things. I would suggest it be read either in a read aloud or in literature circles. This would allow students to discuss the ideas and themes and make personal connections to the text.

Subjects/Themes: obesity, coming of age, bullying, over coming obstacles, orphan, doing the right thing, grief


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