Freak the Mighty

Grade Level: Fifth

“That’s how it started, really, how we got to be Freak the Mighty, slaying dragons and fools and walking high above the world.” You can’t help but become emotionally attached to the characters in Rodman Philbrick’s Freak the Mighty; It is truly a picture of Ecclesiastes 4:9. In this case, two are better than one and true friendship, no matter how short, can grow us into better people.

Kevin, an intelligent young man with a too small body, and Max, a giant of a boy with a too small brain, are next door neighbors. Each boy brings his strengths to the friendship and together they become Freak the Mighty.

Kevin pushes Max out of his comfort zone and challenges him to do more. Kevin teaches Max about adventure & friendship. They go on grand adventures vanquishing evil and saving damsels in distress. One such adventure, leads the boys to the rougher side of town where they come into contact with people who knew their parents. Kevin does not know his dad and Max’s dad is in jail for killing Max’s mom.  

There are two stories that are intertwined in this book: the adventures of the boys and the release of Max’s dad from prison. Most of the book builds up to the release of Kenny, Max’s dad. Both Max and his grandparents fear what he could one day become, but Kevin shows Max that he is more than Killer Kane’s son.

Awesomeness:

  • This book is about true friendship.
  • It is an amazing book about kids with mental and physical disabilities.
  • Kevin is OBSESSED with King Arthur.
  • Max is put into the “smart” classes because of Kevin and learns he is smarter than he thought.
  • This book shows that traumatic experiences really affect development.

Cautions:

  • Max’s dad, Kenny, sneaks into Max’s room and kidnaps him.
  • Kenny takes Max to the rougher side of town to the same couple Max and Kevin had met before. He breaks into an apartment for the night.
  • Eventually, Kenny will take Max to an abandoned building. There he nearly chokes Loretta to death. And he attacks Max.
  • Kevin’s organs are growing but his body is not. He eventually loses his battle with his health.
  • Alcohol being consumed; empty beer cans on the floor of the apartment.

Lesson Plan Ideas:

-Write your personal story down like Max did.

-Research the difficulties little people could have.

-Write a journal entry in response to Max’s comment on page 78: “I’m standing there with Freak high above me and it feels right, it makes me feel strong and smart.”

-Keep your own dictionary

-Teach a younger kid a new word!

-Create a different ending to the book

-You can access the film made by Nickelodeon on youtube

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