Jack Strong just wants to be a regular kid. But his parents have overscheduled his week with every extracurricular activity under the sun: tennis, baseball, cello, karate, tutoring, and Chinese language lessons—all on top of regular homework. His parents want him to be "well-rounded" and prepared for those crucial college applications. Jack's just about had enough.
And so, in Jack Strong Takes a Stand by Tommy Greenwald, he stages a sit-in on his couch and refuses to get up until his parents let him quit some of the extracurriculars. As Jack's protest gains momentum, he attracts a local television host who is interested in doing a segment about him. Tensions rise as counter-protesters camp out across the street from Jack and his couch. Jack's enjoying this newfound attention, but he's worried that this sit-in may have gone too far.
Between school, orchestra, tutoring, karate, and swimming, 12-year-old Jack Strong has a full schedule, designed by his father to ensure he'll get into a good college. But after a week when Jack is stuck in Chinese class while the ice cream store gives away sundaes, must attend a cello recital instead of a party, and can't celebrate his own game-winning hit with the baseball team because he's due at tennis, Jack shuts down. Like Bartleby the Scrivener, he refuses to budge, intent to sit on the couch until he is allowed to reduce his workload. The school newspaper gets wind of his strike and spreads word about one boy's heroic opposition to overprogramming. Greenwald (the Charlie Joe Jackson series) has a good eye for authentic details that breathe life into characters: Jack's mother "watched about one pitch per game, the rest of the time she was yakking," while his father videotapes every at-bat. In the end, common sense prevails, and a family emergency makes Jack realize his EMT training is not such a bad idea. Mendes contributes humorous b&w spot illustrations. Ages 8 12.