Save Me a Seat

by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan (2016)

A Sweet Spot and Intermediate selection.

We think Save Me a Seat is the book you’ve been looking for.  It’s a book about bullying.  It’s a book about different perspectives, told by two boys from different cultures.  It’s a book about friendship.  It’s a book about classroom dynamics.  It’s a book about Indian food!

Ravi’s family has just immigrated from India.  He speaks perfect English – yet no one in the 4th grade can understand him because of his accent.  Even his teacher mispronounces his name.

Joe is a large boy with auditory processing issues – APD.  His teachers think he’s ‘slow’ and he gets teased because he loves to eat.

Somehow these two misfits – or ‘zebras,’ as they call themselves – manage to become friends.  It only takes 225 pages.

Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan move the story briskly back and forth between these two young boys’ perspectives.  All chapters are written in the first person.  We see how Joe perceives certain moments, interactions, and teachers – and how Ravi sees them.  The tension in the story lies in the differences between what they see and hear and assume and understand.

Eventually, both Joe and Ravi learn to see beyond their own first impressions or hopes and come to understand their peers, parents, teachers – and each other – in a new light.

Weeks and Varadarajan build the story to a rousing and unexpected conclusion – that comes to depend on stolen mechanical pencils, boxer shorts with stars on them, leeches inspired by tea fields in India, and a fresh batch of cookies.  And in the end, it all comes down to a double blue M&M…