Cover Image: The Swag Is in the Socks

The Swag Is in the Socks

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Xavier Moon is about to enter seventh grade when he starts receiving letters from his great-uncle Frankie Bell, a musician who still tours. The letters start arriving a day or two after his twelfth birthday, and they contain bits of advice that Xavier isn't quite sure what to do with. A birthday gift that arrived at the same time is even odder: a pair of socks with a unique design on them. His life begins to change from the first time he wears the socks.

THE SWAG IS IN THE SOCKS is, at its core, about gaining confidence in yourself. Xavier learns to roll with the disappointments that come his way. He is turned down for the Scepter League, a club for young men, but doesn't give up the dream. He deals with having to take an introductory sewing class for an elective because the art class he signed up for had too many students. He learns a better way to deal with his stuttering.

I enjoyed Kelly J. Baptist's story for middle readers. I will look for other books in the future.

I received a DRC from Crown Books for Young Readers/Random House Children's Books through NetGalley, for which I thank them. All opinions are mine.
Was this review helpful?
A middle grade book with great themes. The author included many different important aspects to this characters story including a speech impediment. I felt really connected to the main character and think he will connect well with a lot of kids. I’ll be recommending this to a lot of kids. This is good even for you don’t readers reading at a higher level.
Was this review helpful?
After his uncle sends him a pair of eye-catching socks, a Black boy with a speech impediment steps into the spotlight to try to earn a place in an elite society for young men. 

A powerful story with a humorous and authentic narrative voice, THE SWAG IS IN THE SOCKS is a wonderful pick for middle grade readers and book clubs. Baptist challenges readers to stop putting people in boxes and to search for their own "thing," even if that talent or interest isn't socially acceptable. Between the humor and Xavier's quest to join the League, there is plenty to keep young readers engaged and turning pages. A great addition to any middle grade collection!
Was this review helpful?
I fell hard for this book. Baptist tells Xavier’s story, a teenage boy who lives with his great-aunt and sister while his parents are incarcerated. We learn Xavier’s story, his fears and his hopes for the future, especially about joining the legendary Scepter League, an elite after-school club that the men in his family were part of. Faced with a speech challenge and confidence problems, Xavier’s great-uncle starts writing him cryptic letters and sending crazy socks for him to wear. Figuring he’s got nothing to lose, he goes all in and finds out just how much swag a pair of socks can bring and how much potential was inside himself all along.
Was this review helpful?
Oh.My.Goodness.  I can't explain in words how much I loved this book.  I can't wait to read it aloud to my students.  I know that my students will love Xavier as much as I did.  It was refreshing to read a book where the MC has a disability (stuttering) that didn't define the story.  Xavier was learning to overcome his stutter, but that isn't the focal point of the story.  Well done!
Was this review helpful?
5 stars 

I was instantly hooked on Moonie, and I think most readers will join me in this space! 

Xavier, a.k.a. Moonie, is the main character of this extremely charming middle grade novel. From the start, it's clear that Moonie's parents are both incarcerated, and he is living with extended family (including a total character highlight: Aunt Kat). His relationship with his parents is referenced in an organic manner. Moonie mentions short calls on important occasions, and when he thinks about upcoming milestones, it's easy to make the leap that it might be painful for him to miss having his parents there. What is so well accomplished, though, is that in addition to this disappointment, Moonie is surrounded by people who care about him deeply. The underlying messages are there, but they are nuanced in the best way. 

Moonie is so fun to get to know. His relationships are developed, and it's exciting to see him interact with friends, family, and struggles. He experiences a number of challenges, including navigating pretty scary family moments and trying to manage his stuttering. The scenes around speech therapy are brief, but I really enjoy the depiction of the characters and various attitudes/experiences there. I expect many readers will enjoy seeing themselves in these spaces. 

Moonie is really one of the most endearing characters I have encountered in a long time. Despite his challenges, he has an incredibly positive attitude (but not in an annoying way). Many young readers will learn to overcome adversity from watching him do so gracefully. This not-so-young reader feels like I learned a thing or two from him, too. I'll be recommending this one to students for a long time to come!
Was this review helpful?
Xavier is starting the new school year with a couple of things that might seem problematic; his parents are both incarcerated, he stutters, and has braces. He's not quite sure who he is or what he wants to accomplish, although he does really want to be a part of the elite Scepter League at his school. He lives with his great aunt Kat, who is very strict but makes sure he is comfortable but also well behaved. Her means are somewhat limited (the family shops at the thrift store), but she advocates for him to recieve speech therapy at school. Kat's brother, Frankie Bell, is a musician who travels a lot and occasionally lives with the family. When he sends Xavier a pair of funky socks and a letter giving him advice, Xavier doesn't want to stand out by wearing the socks, but knows that his great uncle's advice has helped other people out and tentatively embraces his new, snazzy sock persona. When he is not picked for the Scepter League, he meets with the organizer to ask why he wasn't picked, and is told that he wasn't as much of a leader as the group wants. Armed with new self confidence because of Frankie Bell's socks and advice, Xavier uses his placement in an all-girls sewing class to set up a fundraiser, asks a girl to a school dance, and works toward improving himself so that the Scepter League might reconsider his application. When a family tragedy occurs, Xavier realizes how much his uncle meant not only to him but to his family, and redoubles his efforts to continue his self improvement while also doing good in his community. 
Strengths: The best part of this book is that while Xavier has some challenges, he also has a life. I have often wondered about the effect of books that showcase issues like foster care, incarcerated parents, or physical differences in a way that makes these things seem like the only issue in a child's life. I've had students with incarcerated parents, and I think it would help them more to see a character like Xavier who is dealing with this reality and talking to his mother, but who also has a stable life, a supportive network of family and friends, and interests at school. This is true also of the treatment of his stutter. He is in therapy at school, he often has to use coping skills to speak, but goes on with his life. Sundee Frazier's new Mighty Inside is the only other book that I can recall that addresses speech challenges.
Weaknesses: Are there really elite groups like the Scepter League in public schools? This is just something outside of my realm of experience, like the paramilitary group in Johnson's Twins or the mandatory cotillion in Delle Donne's Belle of the Ball. 
What I really think: Definitely purchasing, and looking forward to handing this one to students who want an upbeat story about a kid takes control of his own destiny and pursue activities despite less than pleasant circumstances in his life.
Was this review helpful?
Xavier has one goal, to join the Legendary Scepter League. A group his father, his great uncle, and his sister's boyfriend is a part of. Xavier starts out this journey to make it in the League for those men who came before him, but his journey takes him to places he didn't imagine.

Xavier struggles with a stutter, his mother and father are both in prison and his Aunt currently fosters he and his sister in her home. I appreciate how Baptiste, takes the stigma of incarceration out of his relationship to his parents. He misses them and he loves them and from that one piece of information from the beginning of the book, a reader can already see Xavier's character.

No matter the disappointments that Xavier faces, big or small. (Sewing instead of art, changing friendships) He takes the present situation and keeps rolling. He starts out the beginning of the book waiting for others to show him his path, but as we journey with Xavier, we see he might have been leading the whole way.

A great middle grade chapter book with diverse characters, strong family and friendships and a powerful but relatable message of what leadership really looks like.
Was this review helpful?
Twelve-year-old Xavier Moon's goal for 7th grade is simple: follow in the footsteps of the men in his family and land a spot in the extremely selective Scepter League. The League's pillars promote leadership, education, service, and character, and Xavier's confident he has what it takes to be the newest member. But what if his "thing" is meant to stretch beyond the Scepter League? Xavier's mission to find his swagger is aided by his eccentric musician uncle, Frankie Bell, who sends Xavier strange, thought-provoking letters accompanied by equally unique socks. The socks open the door for Xavier's confidence to grow, leading him to speak up at school, which is something that had previously been a challenge for Xavier due to his stutter. Readers will enjoy the relatability of Xavier's school life, including a normalizing glimpse into speech support programs. I love that Xavier's speech issues and struggles with imprisoned parents are not magically solved at the end of the story; rather, he and the reader see ways to succeed despite life circumstances. Thank you to NetGalley and Crown Books for Young Readers for this advance reader copy in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Xavier Moon is perfectly content to sit in his bedroom and watch the world from his window until his Uncle Frankie Bell challenges him to step up his game.  Will he wear the strange socks his uncle sends him?  He'll have to show some confidence and leadership if he wants to be selected for the elite Scepter League.  I really enjoyed the transformation of Xavier in the story.  He really wants to be selected for the League and doesn't give up even when faced with adversity.  He's a wonderful, realistic role-model kids can relate to.  My only issue was with some of the language in the book since it is recommended for grades 4-8.  While it's probably realistic, it may be a turn off for the younger end of that spectrum.  I would say it's best suited for middle school.  Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free eARC in exchange for my honest opinion.
Was this review helpful?
What a joyous book this was! It makes you want to go out and buy all the socks so you can have all the swag! Xavier, “Moonie”, wants to join the Scepter League in 7th grade because his dad and uncle were in it, and he knows their motto “ I will be a man who lights the ways for others.” When Uncle Frankie, a traveling musician, takes off he tells Xavier that every man needs something to make him stand out. Uncle Frankie soon sends Xavier  socks and gives Xavier( who stutters)  a challenge: get yourself together, you need confidence or swag because doors will open for you. So Moonie starts wearing the socks, and people notice and love them. His uncle is right, Frankie keeps sending socks and tells Moonie to do less talkin’ and more doin’. When it’s time to interview for the Scepter League, things don’t quite go the way Moonie had expected. On top of this, Moonie has to take a sewing class, and it changes everything for him. Moonie finds that “ sometimes greatness can be right beneath your feet or on your feet.” Such a great book.
Was this review helpful?
This was a good positive book about believing in yourself and your socks.  I'm glad  Xavier lives in a community where his stutter is not an issue.   This is an idealistic world but I enjoyed it all the more because I wish the world could be like this.
Was this review helpful?
While it started slow, the inherent plot was warming and needed. I always enjoy middle grades with a message
Was this review helpful?
One of the main things I love about this book is that although Xavier stutters, this book is not about how to make him stop stuttering. In fact, not really a spoiler, he is still stuttering when this book ends.

No, instead this is the story about how Xavier, who wants to be in this elite service organization at his school, learns how to have confidence, and take on leadership skills, despite being stuck in a sewing glass, as the only boy amongst the girls.

And the socks? The socks are a gift from his great uncle who is a musician, and constantly traveling, but he feels that if Xavier will just wear the socks, that the confidence will follow.

Cute story of finding your "voice" to to speak. Well written, and good way to show you don't have to be perfect at everything, to still have confidence in yourself.a

<em>Thanks to Netgalley for making this book available for an honest review. </em>
Was this review helpful?
Xavier, and his sister Shannon, are living with his great aunt Kat. Xavier struggles with a stutter that got worse when his parents were incarcerated and he moved to his aunts. 

But Xavier has decided 7th grade is HIS year. He’s planning to join the exclusive Scepter League, following in his father’s and uncle Frank’s footsteps. 

Then his uncle starts sending him indecipherable letters and funky socks. Will these help Xavier achieve his goals?
Was this review helpful?