Fry (Bully Bait, 2013) hits his stride in this second hilarious exploration of the hazards and histrionics of middle school, as seen through the eyes of Nick, the shortest seventh-grader ever.
Having shut down bullying at Emily Dickinson Middle School, the Odd Squad has little of importance to do. Molly’s growing friendship with a new girl at school makes Nick jealously seek attention. Wanting to prove that the ghost of the school’s poet is real and realizing that Emily appears only when someone is bullied, Nick bullies himself. Wrapped in toilet paper and stuffed into a trash can that hurtles down a staircase, Nick embarks on a series of disastrous yet funny choices that bring Zero Tolerance for Intolerance to the school. Abetted by his quirky grandmother, Memaw, Nick crashes the class field trip to King Potatamus’s Egyptopolis (and Water Park) in a wacky adventure that brings a flirtatious encounter between Mr. Dupree, the Shakespeare-quoting school janitor and Safety Patrol adviser, and Memaw, who, in Nick’s estimation, “could make a mime scream.” Amid the laugh-out-loud humor and abundant cartoon-style illustrations is an important message: While all kids may want to be normal, it’s OK to be oneself. Or as Memaw says, “Sweetie, normal is overrated.”
Nick ably joins Greg Heffley and Big Nate in comically maneuvering the minefield of middle school life. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)