Freak the Mighty

by W. R. Philbrick

Paperback, 1995



Call number

PB Phi

Call number

PB Phi

Local notes

PB Phi




Point (1995), 169 pages


At the beginning of eighth grade, learning disabled Max and his new friend Freak, whose birth defect has affected his body but not his brilliant mind, find that when they combine forces they make a powerful team.


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

169 p.; 4.5 x 0.5 inches

User reviews

LibraryThing member Whisper1
This is a charming story of two young boys who are misfits in society, but fit very well together as friends.

One exceedingly tall, the other dwarfish and afflicted with Morquio Syndrome.

One whose father is in jail, the other, as the town bullies remind him, had a father that was a "magician" and
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disappeared when the words genetic defect were mentioned.

One who is categorized as learning disabled, the other who is off the charts intelligent.

The story is told by seven foot Maxwell who carries small Kevin on his shoulders. Together they are a mighty nine feet tall.

Together they defy the town bullies, take magical imaginative journeys and learn the importance of making every day count.

This will be one of the top reads for 2010. I'm heading to the bookstore to buy a copy for my permanent library.

If you liked the book A Prayer for Owen Meany, then, please do read this one, I doubt if you will be disappointed.
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LibraryThing member dk_phoenix
Strong, moving, heartwarming story. Perfect for children and adults who feel like "outsiders" or displaced in their lives or situation. Uplifting for those who are struggling, and deeply compassionate for the people around them.

I really don't have much else to say, other than this is a story that
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will move children and adults alike. It'll make for great discussion with your kids, and a bit of thoughtful reflection for yourself. You might, however, want a box of Kleenex nearby.
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LibraryThing member SOlson096
I loved this book when I was Freak the Mighty's age, and I love it now as an adult. It's a wonderful tale of friendship between two very different boys with very different troubles. I would love to read the sequel one day.
LibraryThing member rata
Great book to evoke emotive response. The storyline unfolded at a good pace without becoming too overlapped, allowed me as a reader to enjoy the content.
LibraryThing member bell7
Max describes himself as just a butthead before Kevin moved down the street. He lives with his grandparents in a room in a basement, or the "Down Under," keeps growing like crazy, and goes to LD classes. Then Kevin moves in. Max remembers him as "Freak" from daycare, a brilliant boy who's crippled
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by a body which grows on the inside, and not out. When these two boys begin a friendship, they become "Freak the Mighty."

When the audiobook I was listening to stopped working in my car CD player, I needed to find a fast replacement. This book had been on my radar since many of the kids in town were reading it for school over the summer, so when I saw it available at the library where I work, I nabbed it. The reader is Elden Henson, whose name might sound familiar either from the Mighty Ducks movies or from the movie based on this book, "The Mighty." Max's voice will always sound like his in my head now. It took a little getting used to, but the narration was pitch-perfect for Max and his point of view. I enjoyed the characters, Max and Kevin, as the two very different boys grow to be friends and go on "quests." It's not a story to give to kids impatient for stories to start off with a bang, but if they don't mind one that unfolds a bit slower, it's hugely rewarding.
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LibraryThing member elisemarie
A wonderful story of friendship between two unlikely boys. One, with a crippling deformity and the other big with not a great mind. Together they make up Freak the Mighty. A must read.
LibraryThing member librarymeg
This is a lovely, offbeat book about the unlikely friendship between two boys who seem to share nothing in common. Max is very big for his age, and thinks he isn't very smart, while Kevin has a birth defect that causes him to stay very small. He's also brilliant! The two team up, Max carrying Kevin
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on his shoulders, and become Freak the Mighty, going on quests to assist those in need and living life to its fullest in every adventure. The story is told from Max's point of view, and we learn all about his grandparents, his mother who's passed away, and his father, Killer Kane, who's in prison. Through Max we experience all over again the agony of being young and different, and the joy of finding a kindred spirit. This book was a fantastic read!
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LibraryThing member LibbyJaycox
I love how it was about a smart boy in the body of a two year old. I like how the book says I never had a brain, until freak came along.
LibraryThing member sierradunlap
I thought that this book is a wonderful I hope that other people read this book.
LibraryThing member jrakeandlola
it is a story about a person that has a father in jail and a disabled friend.
LibraryThing member ace88
At the end i thought it was sad when freak died . Freak was a smart and cool kid.
LibraryThing member raeoh7
This book when I read it, it was a little confusing, but it has some scenes that is melacholy but happy scenes, to me i didn't liked it.
LibraryThing member IanO5
Freak the Mighty was an inspiring story about two outcasts who come to be great friends and go on numerous different adventures. As the stry progresses they seem to grow closer and learn different things about each other.

Freak, or Kevin, is brainiac who has some sort of disease that gives him a
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short life expectancy. He loves computers and loves his dictionary. He and Max had used to go to pre-school together ruinite one day and become great friends.
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LibraryThing member babbryan
This is a very good book. I thought the characters were well developed. I will recommend this to my 6th grade readers. The plot is interesting. I think this could be used for younger students if the teacher helped with vocabulary.
LibraryThing member HeatherGabrich
Freak the Mighty is a great book for upper elementary and middle school students. It is about a handicap boy name Kevin and a BIG boy named Max. They become best friend who do everything together. Kevin loves making up stories and as they walk the streets play them out. Kevin is a brave young man
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who helps Max get out of trouble. Kevin saves the day but later becomes very sick. There is a very sad ending, but a good book that keeps the readers interest.
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LibraryThing member muse2323
"I never had a brain until Freak came along. And that's the truth. The whole truth. The unvanquished truth is how Freak would say it, and for a long time it was him who did the talking."

Tell me, how do you put down a book with a beginning like that? (Or something like that--I did it from memory, so
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I may have gotten a word or comma wrong.)

Short (about 120 pages), lots of appeal for even the most reluctant readers. And a great read-aloud.
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LibraryThing member coresonk
Not to sound cheesy, but I laughed and I cried. The friendship between Max and Kevin is so brilliantly crafted, it is hard not to do both throughout the book. This story is such a wonderful tale of overcoming adversity and learning to accept differences. It should be read by middle schoolers
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everywhere. I wish that is was required curriculum. At an age where being anything but a conformist makes you bad, a book like this could really change some minds.
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LibraryThing member cablesclasses
One of the best read alouds! Freak and Max are inseparable in middle school. Max carries Freak on his shoulders, hence the beginning of Freak the Mighty because they are nearly 8 feet tall together! Let the adventures begin...Max's parents, Freak's disease, and Darth Vader on a midnight run. Fun,
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sad, and memorable.
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LibraryThing member koenigp
This story will stay with you after you're done reading it. Two boys, both handicapped in some way, become a unit. The story is about friendship and what is the true meaning of friends!
LibraryThing member stuwilab
List the clues in the book that tell us how Max feels about himself (no brain, butthead, lives down under, etc.)

Find aspects of this novel that make it somewhat of a fantasy (heros, quests, magical moments, etc.)

Have students explore the meaning of the word "sobriquet." Identify the sobriquets in
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the book. Create sobriquets for each other or for yourself that reflect a positive quality in the person. Brainstorm others who have well-known sobriquets.

Recommend carefully. This book would probably be most appropriate for 5-6 grade students, and students who are mature enough to handle some of the strong themes.

Recommend to students who are drawn to books with strong relationships/friendships. Might prove very meaningful to a student who has low self esteem about his/her academic abilities or who has lost a close friend.

Have heard from other teachers that this is fantastic as a read-aloud for 5th and 6th graders. Has a lot of important themes to discuss.
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LibraryThing member DawnFechter
A wonderful story of a learning disabled teen, Maxwell Kane, who is large and awkward and has emotional scars from seeing his father murder his mother. With max’s father in prison he is raised by his grandparents. Then Max meets Kevin a 13 year old genius who has the body of a five year old. The
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boys become friends and help each other. Max helps Kevin get around and Kevin helps Max with learning. Together they become Freak the mighty. They go on many adventures together helping each other become more confident. When Kevin dies, Max must learn to be confident on his own and keep the adventures going alone. A great book for middle school children that deals with a learning disability and a physical disability with children in an amazing way.
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LibraryThing member ewang109
Philbrick, R. (1993). Freak the mighty. New York, NY: Scholastic.

Maxwell (Max) and Kevin (Freak) first meet each other at a day care. Many years later, when Max is in the seventh grade, he sees that Freak moves into his neighborhood. Though they are reunited in through an awkward encounter, the two
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become inseparable.

They are partially drawn to each other because of their special needs. Max believes that he is a giant goon without a brain because he is L.D. (learning disabled). Max's past also traumatizes him. Max remembers his father known as “Killer Kane” strangling his mother. On the other hand, Freak is a genius trapped inside a dwarf’s body. Freak’s mother and Max’s mother were friends.

The two also build upon each other’s strengths. Freak relies on Max to physically move, while Max depends on Freak’s intelligence. The two call themselves Freak the Mighty: a team who “[slays] dragons and fools and [walks] high above the world” (Philbrick, 1993, p. 1).

Their quests include being chased by bullies, retrieving a wallet from a storm drain, and encountering Iggy, the leader of a motorcycle gang. Through these adventures, they form a strong bond. When “Killer Kane” kidnaps Max, it is Freak who saves him. Yet, their friendship is tested with a sudden and unexpected event occurs.

This book has elements of humor, adventure, and suspense. Freak’s words are hilarious, because he does not talk like a normal kid. Their adventures are highly entertaining. The book also has some suspenseful moments, such as when “Killer Kane” returns. Throughout the story, readers will find Max and Freak’s friendship touching and heartfelt.

The book moves at a fast pace and is an easy read. It is perfect for reluctant readers, because it is a high-interest low vocabulary (hi-low) book. Freak the Mighty also provides some insight into the emotions that children might have if they are learning disabled. Overall, I enjoyed this book because it had a good balance of humorous and somber moments. It would make a nice addition to a middle school library collection. It is appropriate for grades 6 through 9.
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LibraryThing member ranaemathias
Max and Kevin are unlikely friends. Max is afraid he's turning into his father, "Killer Kane"; at least that's what he hears whispered whenever he's around. Kevin, afraid of nothing even though he's only 2 feet tall, has courage and imagination enough for both of them. Max's life changes when he
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meets Kevin, the only one who doesn't treat him as though he's stupid. Kevin, who is blessed with genius-level intellect but numerous medical challenges, helps Max gain confidence in himself. Through a summer of adventures together, Kevin (known as Freak because his deformed body) rides around on Max's shoulders encouraging his creativity and building trust while they go on many "quests". Thus, with Max's strength and Kevin's imagination, Freak the Mighty is born. Max learns to face his fears about his family, bullies and school, where the words he reads have a tendency to twist themselves on the page. Kevin's greatest gift to Max is teaching him that remembering is a great invention of the mind, and that even the painful things are worth remembering. Max gives Kevin unconditional friendship and acceptance, two things he's never had before. When the unthinkable happens, Max realizes that remembering is sometimes all you have and that's a great gift.
These two characters grow and mature throughout the story. Many middle school kids will be able to relate to the insecurities and fears these characters face. Be ready for an ending that will leave you both happy and sad at the same time.
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LibraryThing member SadieReads
"Freak the Mighty" is a touching story of two unlikely friends.
LibraryThing member edspicer
The book is a great, emotional book about two good friends with one brain and one body when together. I read this book because my teacher recommended it.




½ (615 ratings; 4)
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