A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Middle School: Get Me Out of Here! is the sequel to James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts' Middle School, the Worst Years of My Life, both of which chronicle -- with humor -- the life of loner/misfit Rafe, a gifted artist with a good heart. Tweens will relate to Rafe, his often-misunderstood intentions, and his middle school awkwardness. This book shows a mean side of school -- bullies, cyberbullying, and what happens when a friendship turns sour -- things that most middle school kids deal with everyday. The abundant illustrations add fun and insight.
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What's the story?
Things are pretty dismal for Rafe. His mom looses her job, and his family is forced to move into their grandmother's shabby house in the big city. But his favorite teacher, the Dragonlady, arranges for him to go to the Cathedral School of the Arts. Although they're gifted artists, students at Cathedral can be mean and vicious, just like at his old school. From the start, Rafe is targeted by the school bullies. Luckily he finds a friend. Although it's good to have someone to hang with, Rafe soon finds out that friendship has many meanings and that his new friend, Matty the Freak, may not be the best choice. In order to have a more interesting life, Rafe starts Operation: Get a Life to create adventures to draw about. Through Operation: Get a Life, he also discovers clues to what happened to his father, whom Rafe hasn't seen since he was 7.
Is it any good?
Reluctant readers will relate to Rafe and his real middle school issues in this plot-driven story. As in the first book, illustrations play a key role in MIDDLE SCHOOL: GET ME OUT OF HERE! by telling what's going on in Rafe's overactive imagination. Rafe's drawings (by illustrator Laura Park) add a narrative of their own and a complexity that fleshes out the story.
Although humorous, Rafe's antics give readers plenty to think about as he navigates his new middle school. The balance of humor and real-life issues make this face-paced book a good choice for tweens who are ready to move on from Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Big Nate books.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the book depicts bullying. Someone at school posts mean lies on Rafe's student Web page. Have you ever been involved in cyberbullying, on either side?
Kids: Where do you go when you need help? Rafe often gets in trouble because he won't tell on a classmate, even when being bullied. Is there someone at school or home you could talk to or go to for help?
Rafe is determined to be an artist. Do you have anything in your life that you're passionate about?
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