With age-appropriate humor and insight, veteran teacher Reynolds offers advice aimed at assisting young people as they trek through the minefield that is middle school.
Honest in tone but with an acute sense of the ridiculous (the trope of garlic-bread–stealing space gnomes is overused), the short chapters contain stories from the author’s own middle school experience or his imagination, a narrative approach that will appeal to fans of books such as Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Short chapters on bullying, peer pressure, grades, dealing with parents and teachers, and more are sprinkled with accessible and pertinent quotes and end with exercises to try. The topic of sex is excluded, gearing the book to younger readers—especially those who enjoy scatological goofiness. Reynolds takes on the media, imagining a fictitious Mr. Buttmuncher at its head, to encourage kids to think for themselves. While playful black-and-white cartoon illustrations and doodles add to the zaniness, the messages are worthy and clear: be yourself; practice empathy; work hard; hug your parents. A list of recommended books and movies is appended.
For those approaching or in the scrum of middle school, a positive reminder that the perfect middle school experience does not exist. (Nonfiction. 10-14)