PotterwookieeWe bought Potterwookiee at a Scholastic book fair because it combined Harry Potter and Star Wars, two of my son’s favorite universes. He read it a while ago and I think he said it was ok. I finally got around to reading it, and I’m equally unimpressed.

It’s part of The Creature from My Closet series, which is another entry in the “combining a handwritten font with illustrations to tell a story from the point of view of a middle school kid” genre. Some of the books from this genre are brilliant (the Origami Yoda series, for instance) and some are amusing (such as The Dork Diaries) and some manage to cover surprisingly dark topics (like My Life as a Book). And I appreciate that the integrated illustrations in these books help readers interact with them on several levels—always a good thing when trying to pull in as many kids as possible.

Potterwookiee is fine, I guess. It’s the second in the series (Wonkenstein is the first) and the idea is that Robert, our hero, has a messy closet. He threw all the books his parents gave him that he never read into the closet along with a chemistry set. His dad got a door at a garage sale that has a doorknob with a face in it, and when all that stuff was closed behind that door, weird creatures started coming out of the closet. Wonkenstein was a combination of Willy Wonka and Frankenstein (although the pedantic English teacher in me can’t tell from the reviews if it’s Doctor Frankenstein or Frankenstein’s monster—and yes that’s a very important distinction to me!).

Potterwookiee is, as you can probably guess, a combination of Harry Potter and Chewbacca. Little is done with this, aside from the pictures of a wookiee in Gryffindor robes and mention of Robert actually reading (gasp!) the Harry Potter series and some Star Wars novelizations. (Did you know that books often contain more details than movies do?!? Shocking, I know.) Other than that, Hairy, as Robert calls the creature, is mostly a plot device that occasionally does magic. There is little overarching plot as Robert gets thrown from one mild disaster to another.

SPOILER ALERT: Things you might want to know before suggesting this to your kid

People Are Idiots

I was tempted to say that all of the adults in this book are ineffectual idiots, and that’s true, but then I realized that pretty much everyone in this book is clueless and bumbling.

Some of it seems to hide some pretty dark stuff, if you read between the lines. Robert’s mother spends most of her time either embarrassing her kids or sleeping on the sofa. Robert’s father is chipper to the point of seeming to be in denial about something. Robert’s sister is self absorbed and into taking pictures of herself, sometimes while suntanning—one can only imagine what she’s doing with those while her parents are busy not paying attention to their children. No, I don’t think most kids will read between the lines like I am, but there’s a dark dysfunctional YA novel lurking in the background of this series.

Lack of Agency

Robert seems unable to control much of anything going on in his life. He’s pulled along by events that he can’t do anything about—except that it felt like he could if he’d just actually do something. The bully manages to bully him mostly by just showing up. Robert more or less hands over his bike. Robert puts up with his friends teasing him, and they trample all over him because he won’t say no.

When he does take action, he says offensive and idiotic things to the girl he likes, and he refuses to let his little brother be part of his team for a competitive cooking thing even after his mother totally oversteps any reasonable boundaries to convince him to. His brother enters anyway and wins, so obviously sticking up for himself was the wrong thing for Robert to do.


Wilt is the neighborhood bully. He doesn’t seem to beat people up very much—he threatens, and everyone capitulates. He does, however, spit on his hands and mess kids’ hair up in a way that implies the kid has to stand there for a long time letting him do it. It feels like he’s a bully mostly because everyone else enables him to be.

The boys decide to get back at Wilt and they tie him to a tree in a graveyard. It turns out that he was so terrified that they managed to get him to promise to never hurt anyone again, and after that Wilt kind of lives up to his name, wilting away from other people. Apparently, this is success.

Wilt’s father ends up chasing Robert, and from an illustration you know he says things like “I’m putting on my spanking pants and pinching gloves and teaching you a lesson you won’t soon forget.” Robert says these things don’t make any sense, but again it doesn’t take much to think that Wilt gets hit and pinched a lot at home.


Robert is an idiot around his neighbor Janae because he has a crush on her. He shows this by telling her she’ll lose at the cooking competition because he’ll beat her and by almost telling her that all the good chefs are men—luckily, before this gem comes out of his mouth, he thinks of a lot of good chefs who are women.

The principal has “gender sticks” which he uses when talking about the differences between boys and girls. From the illustration, they appear to be puppets. The principal is amazingly ineffectual and stereotypical as he tries to list inventions by men and women.

Weight Issues

Rourk is drawn as a chubby kid. He tends to eat to the point where he gets sick, he can’t control himself when there’s food around, and he can’t keep up with the other kids while they’re running because he gets cramps and almost pukes.

Secrets and Trust

Robert’s mom has a big issue with Robert locking his bedroom door—apparently yelling at him about this is one of the few things that rouses her off the sofa. However, this doesn’t mean she has even the slightest clue what her kids are up to. There’s no way Robert would go to his parents after Wilt steals his bike. He won’t go to them about the weird things coming out of his closet. I don’t think he even clearly tells his mom that he won’t let his little brother on his team—he just never lets him join. Talking to his parents seems to be out of the question. His friends come in and out of his bedroom window rather than walking through the door, so Robert’s parents don’t even know when there are other kids in their house.

Bodily Functions

There are throw away lines about pooping yourself and needing to stay near a bathroom because of the disgusting stuff you just ate.


Yeah, I’m pretty harsh on this book. No, I don’t really think most kids will pick up on the many things I have issues with. But there are much better books out there in this genre. I’d highly recommend only getting around to this series once your kid has gone through all of those. It’s probably suitable for 10 and up.


Potterwookiee by Obert Skye
Published in 2012 by Scholastic Inc
Second in The Creature from My Closet series
Read my son’s copy

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