Summary: The Swag Is in the Socks
The Swag Is in the Socks is Kelly J. Baptist’s newest middle grade offering. It stars young Xavier Moon whose parents are both incarcerated. Xavier is not the steal-the-spotlight kind of guy. He’s often in his room playing video games or watching stuff happen from his bedroom window. He also has a stutter that he’s working on — and he has braces.
The one thing Xavier really wants is to be a part of is the Scepter League, the elite after-school club that only accepts confident, exemplary tween boys. His father, great uncle, and grandfather are all alumni. But when Xavier doesn’t get in, he’s determined to prove to the club leaders that he can be a League boy. Fortunately, the cool socks that his great uncle Frankie Bell keeps sending him seem to be winning him popularity votes.
As always, Baptiste writes about Black boys in tough situations with a lot of empathy. Despite having both parents in prison, Xavier is positive and has a supportive family and community made up of his sister, great aunt, great uncle, and neighbors. He’s also not as timid as he seems initially. He’s not ashamed of having braces and doesn’t let his stutter affect his self-esteem. I loved the overall positive portrayal despite many challenges.
As a sock person, I loved the fact that Frankie Bell sent Xavier cool socks. I also loved the speech therapy and the kids in Xavier’s sewing class (yes, he sews!). I also liked Xavier’s friendship with Daysha and the fact that Xavier had male friends he felt close to. The entire plot was refreshing and I liked that a fair amount of the story wasn’t predictable. Again in Baptist’s style, this is a short book, packed with plenty of heart and a solid plot.
Overall: The Swag Is in the Socks
The Swag Is in the Socks is a sweet portrayal of a boy finding his voice and growing his confidence with some help from his community. Featuring a protagonist — with a stutter and incarcerated parents — who doesn’t let others define him, this book makes for an inspiring, charming read. With strong family dynamics and an overarching sense of community, this book is perfect for sock fiends, fans of Black middle grade books, and those who love stories featuring strong male friendships.