Hank Zipzer: Day of the Iguana

by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver (2003)

Did you know Henry Winkler was dyslexic? Yes, that Henry Winkler – the Fonz, from Happy Days. In 2003, at the urging of his agent, he began writing a series of books – with a co-author, Lin Oliver – about his stand-in dyslexic alter ego, Hank Zipzer – ‘the world’s greatest underachiever.’

Winkler’s creation is now a series 17 books long and has obviously been popular with kids and families these last 12 years. When we learned that a couple of One School, One Book schools had opted for Hank Zipzer, we opted to find out why.

We’re happy to offer the third book in the series, Day of the Iguana, to our One School, One Book students and families.

Winkler and Oliver write easily accessible prose – easy to read, easy to understand, easy to identify with, and easy to understand. Hank Zipzer is an Everyman (or Everykid). He’s normal, big-hearted, makes mistakes. Winkler and Oliver describe a familiar milieu – family, friends, and school – that all kids (and their families) will recognize and appreciate.

Of course Hank manages to get himself involved in situations – in this case he manages to dismantle his family’s cable box in an effort to tape – or re-tape – a favorite film, The Mutant Moth That Ate Toledo.

But it’s not the premise that makes Hank Zipzer: Day of the Iguana tick. It’s the tone. The prose is colorful. Hank’s sister is “nine annoying years old.” Hank fends off his parents over his shoulder nagging by telling them, “You can’t hurry science.” Winkler wants everyone to identify with Hank Zipzer, to be re-immersed in the milieu and remember what it means to be in elementary school. That’s what our strong One School, One Book titles do – and in 17 titles Hank Zipzer does it effortlessly.

Winkler and Oliver manage to also work in quite a bit of constructive information about iguanas – so One School, One Book schools will have something interesting and scientific from the animal world to explore as well.

If you’re looking for a new character to pass onto your families – one with durable sequel legs, Hank Zipzer may just be your man.