The First Rule of Punk
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
Suggest an Update
A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The First Rule of Punk is about a 12-year-old Latina who loves punk and bristles at pressure to act as a model señorita. Malú's story -- the first book by librarian and zine-maker Celia C. Pérez -- is packed with samples of engagingly illustrated zines that explore her connections with her family, Mexico, feminism, and more. Malú is rebellious but respectful, by and large: She looks for opportunities to express herself within the lines established by her school and family (aside from a makeover done without her mother's knowledge). The power of creativity, the importance of speaking up against unfairness, and recognizing how your history informs your present are key themes.
Instant classic about self-expression and finding who you are
Report this review
What's the Story?
THE FIRST RULE OF PUNK is to be yourself. Twelve-year-old Malú is trying to be herself, but her mom (nicknamed "SuperMexican") pesters her to behave like una señorita, her new school says her preferred makeup and clothing violates the dress code, and a classmate calls her a "coconut": brown on the outside, white on the inside. Malú is excited when she falls in with a group of similarly spirited kids and they start a band. When the principal says they're too loud to participate in a talent show celebrating the school's Mexican namesake, Malú surprises herself with her resolve, her growing appreciation of her heritage, and her strong voice.
Is It Any Good?
In her bright, Latino-themed middle school misfit story, Celia C. Pérez shows how creative sparks fly when a frustrated punk girl takes a fresh look at her Mexican heritage and her unfolding future. Malú's search to find her people in The First Rule of Punk of course is a journey to find herself: She starts off full of ideas but unsure how to act on them once she's yanked out of her familiar life. She's a smart, engaging heroine, and Pérez surrounds her with wonderful women: an elderly neighbor, the punk-loving owner of a coffee shop, and her own mother, plus role models like punk musician Poly Styrene and artist Frida Kahlo.
Malú loves punk as a force for good: courage, resourcefulness, creativity, confidence, and kindness. Her embrace of punk music as a lifestyle and philosophical lens may encourage readers to think about their own worldview -- and to grab paper and scissors to craft their own zines.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about creativity and self-expression in The First Rule of Punk. Malú makes zines, listens to music, and starts performing herself -- what are your creative outlets?
Do you sometimes bristle at family expectations for you, like Malú does?
Malú and her friends take elements of traditional Mexican culture and transform them into something new. How do you feel about changing familiar traditions and customs?
- Author: Celia C. Pérez
- Genre: Coming of Age
- Topics: Friendship, Great Girl Role Models, History, Middle School
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
- Publication date: August 22, 2017
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 336
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Award: ALA Best and Notable Books
- Last updated: August 7, 2022
Our Editors Recommend
Stef Soto, Taco Queen
Warm, funny tale of family, tacos, and middle school.
Gabby Garcia's Ultimate Playbook: Gabby Garcia, Book 1
Goal-focused Latina scores big hit in series opener.
The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora
Vibrant, touching story of lovelorn teen finding his voice.
For kids who love Latino stories and strong girls
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate