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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: middle school politics, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. Boys Are Dogs


Boys Are Dogs by Leslie Margolis. Bloomsbury USA Children's Books. 2008. Brilliance Audio 2009. Reviewed from audiobook from Brilliance. Narrated by Ellen Grafton.

The Plot: Annabelle has moved to a new house. Because her mother has decided to move in with her new boyfriend. So now she has to go to a new school, a public middle school after years at an all girl's school. Also? Annabelle has a new puppy.

New house, new Mom's boyfriend, new school, new puppy, new friends, new boys. It's a lot to deal with and Annabelle does so -- sometimes gracefully, sometimes not, sometimes reluctantly, sometimes wholeheartedly, but always with humor and a unique, invidual outlook on life.

The Good: Annabelle is a terrific sixth grader. Boys are Dogs captures that perfect mix of excitement and fear over starting a new school in a new town where you know no one. Sometimes, it all goes wrong, like when the puppy eats Annabelle's back to school clothes. Other times, it all goes right, like when Rachel, a girl her age in her new neighborhood, invites Annabelle to eat lunch with Rachel and her friends. If you don't understand the importance of having someone to eat lunch with on the first day of a new school -- well, I can only assume you never had a first day at a new school.

Annabelle and her mother have always been a tight unit of two; the inclusion of Ted, Mom's boyfriend, is done both realistically but also, well -- in a nice way. While it's not easy and all Brady Bunch at the beginning, how refreshing to have a book where the grownups (Mom and Ted) act like, well, grown ups, thinking of Annabelle. Annabelle may not always agree, such as when she had to move away from her school and her two best friends.

A new school with boys... and this is where the book really kicks into gear. Whether it's because Annabelle had no father or brothers, or went to an all girl school, or is now a sixth grader in middle school (I know some teachers who really dislike middle schools), Annabelle has only just now encountered boys. This is not a book about tween romance. Annabelle is not boy crazy -- and before I continue, not every sixth grade girl is boy crazy and it's nice to see that reality reflected in a book. Sixth graders will like this book; but so, too, will younger kids.

Even if Annabelle wanted a boyfriend, the actions of the boys at this new school hardly scream "date me." They kick her chair, play practical jokes on her, call her Spanabelle and Spaz, hog the science equipment, ruin her homework, and I could go on and on. You know what is great about this book? No one ever says to Annabelle or the reader, "that boy is acting like that because he likes you." Hallelujah to at least one book that doesn't perpetuate the myth, "if a boy is mean or disrespectful it's because he likes you."

Annabelle puts up with it.... at first. But she has a secret weapon. Remember her clothes eating puppy? She's been reading how to train dogs. Annabelle puts two and two together and figu

4 Comments on Boys Are Dogs, last added: 3/24/2010
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2. Queen Bee


Queen Bee by Chynna Clugston. Graphix, Imprint of Scholastic. Library copy. Graphic Novel.

The Plot: Haley is the new girl in 7th grade. She's glad she's in a new school; it's a chance to start over and be popular! The only problem . . . she's got this little thing called psychokinesis. Which can cause a wee bit of trouble.

The Good: It's classic middle school story line. Girl wants to be popular so doesn't hang out with the friendly girl. Popular group has a Queen Bee. There's a nice shy boy; but he's not cool enough.

The new twists: it's in graphic novel format. Haley manages to rise to the top of the social structure... but it's tricky staying on top. When new girl Alexa shows up, she not only becomes the new Queen Bee; Haley finds herself struggling to keep any of her popularity. It's not easy, because Alexa doesn't fight fair. Middle School politics are front and center, with a healthy dose of manipulation. All assisted by psychokinesis. Haley can move things with her mind! (But she has some control issues.)

The wrap up is interesting: a little American Idol, a little High School Musical, as the school's drama show determines who will be the Queen Bee. For this volume, at least.

Links:
Author's LiveJournal.
Review by TangognaT at Chicken Spaghetti.
The Goddess of YA Literature - GNs for gurlz

1 Comments on Queen Bee, last added: 3/6/2007
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