Xavier Moon is not one to steal the show. He’s perfectly content to play video games and sit at his bedroom window watching the neighborhood talk outside.
But for Xavier’s twelfth birthday, he receives a pair of funky socks and a challenge from his great-uncle, Frankie Bell, saying it’s time to swag out and speak up. First on the list: get into the legendary Scepter League. Xavier’s grandfather, great-uncle, and father were all invited to join the elite boys’ after-school club that admits only the most suave and confident young men. Xavier has never had the courage to apply before, but his wild socks are getting him some big attention, so maybe it’s time to come out of the shadows and follow in his family’s footsteps. Or maybe Xavier will march down a new path altogether.


Xavier Moon, Great name and an equally great narrator in this compelling contemporary story. Xavier’s current situation is not the best to achieve his dream of joining the elite Scepter League. Both parents are in jail and he and an older sister live with their great aunt. Xavier also stutters and it got a lot worse after his parents were sent away.

His outlook on who he wants to be gets a jolt upon receiving the eye-opening birthday letter from his free-spirited great uncle, Frankie Bell. A line like “Far as I can see, you got nothin’, other than the fact you a wire-mouth, stutter. boy with jailbird parents.” sure gets Xavier’s attention. Uncle Frankie is a musician who travels around to gigs and along with more advice in the letter is a pair of socks—navy blue with red and yellow polka dots.

Soon after come more letters and more socks. Xavier is finally convinced to wear the socks and things begin to change. Adults and kids are noticing him in a whole new way. A special teacher helps with stuttering strategies and Frankie’s advice seems to be working. But is any of this really helping him get picked for the Scepter League? A sewing class and a family tragedy lead Xavier to discover more about himself than ever expected—and it’s more than the swag in his socks.

Upbeat and worthy of all the praise coming its way. A memorable and important addition to the MG shelves.



  1. Xavier has a large support group and it’s an important piece for any kid. From his older sister and cranky Aunt Kat to his friends at school. They pave the way for the eventual visit from Uncle Frankie Bell. A climatic but perfect way to bring this story to a close.
  2. Stuttering is not the focus of the story. It’s something Xavier is dealing with but in the end this is all about family and how he finds his own way of expression.
  3. Moonie is Xavier’s nickname, but no matter what he’s called this kid will become a favorite for anyone reading his story. A positive character who shines in every chapter.
  4. Not all plot points are solved by the end but it works. Xavier continues to stutter and his parents are still in jail. Despite this, I got the feeling the future is going to be great for Xavier.
  5. Perfect subtle messages about finding your passion and always moving forward.


I have been writing since…well, since I learned how to write!  I started with notes and letters to my parents, then poems and short stories. When I was about eight or nine, my mother took us to see a small-town production of the play A Raisin In The Sun. This was a transformative moment for me because I was captivated by seeing the written word come to life on stage. As soon as we got home, I started writing my own copy-cat version of the play…still have that copy today! 

(For more about Kelly be sure to visit her author web site.)



About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...always striving to reach the next peak in my life and career.
This entry was posted in Middle Grade Book Reviews and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to THE SWAG IS IN THE SOCKS

  1. Our assistant principal always has unusual socks on (the other day they were Spock faces– with ears!), so I think that will be a big draw for my students, but it was also a great story. Thanks for the helpful review!

  2. This sounds like a great story. I really like that it deals with stuttering but it’s not the main focus of the story. Thanks for featuring it this week.

  3. donnagalanti says:

    Love this story and the sock element. My son loves crazy socks and it’s fun to see how such a small change can lead to bigger ones. 🙂

  4. Sue Heavenrich says:

    I love socks! Such a fun way to comment, without wearing a t-shirt with a slogan.

  5. Completely Full Bookshelf says:

    This sounds like a great read! I’ve seen a lot of praise for it recently, and between the fun socks, compelling protagonist, and hopeful plot, I can see why! It’s also interesting to see a character who stutters, but like Natalie Aguirre said, it’s nice that it’s not the main focus. Thanks so much for the great review, Greg!

  6. I really fell in love with this story and Xavier! I love the sock idea (I love crazy socks), so that was a win for me. But, this is a story about finding your place in the world and accepting your self for who you are. I also love to see another book with a main character that stutters. Great for kids who stutter. What a great share today!

  7. That cover sure is eye-catching! I read another review of this recently that was also very positive. I’ll keep my eye open for this one. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  8. I am always drawn to books about kids that stutter as I had a bit of a stutter as a young child. Thanks for sharing this one!

  9. Pingback: THE BOY WHO MADE EVERYONE LAUGH | Always in the Middle…

  10. Pingback: THE WAY I SAY IT | Always in the Middle…

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