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: My Brother Is a Big, Fat Liar is the third book in James Patterson's Middle School series. Here, his co-author is Lisa Papademetriou, and the focus is on the experience of Rafe's little sister Georgia at the same school Rafe was expelled from in Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life. Georgia encounters bullies in the form of three mean girl "princesses" as well as Miller the (mini) Killer (younger brother of Rafe's nemesis) and teachers who are out to get her just because she's related to Rafe. In the end, though, she makes two good friends and discovers the meaning of friendship. She also discovers that her annoying big brother is not that bad. The story touches on topics such as dementia and adoption, but they're not explored in depth. The humor in both the writing and Laura Park's illustrations will appeal to fans of Dear Dumb Diary and Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Not a lot to chew on, but the story deals with issues important to middle schoolers. A good choice for reluctant readers.
What's the story?
Georgia's excited to be starting at Hills Village Middle School, even though her brother, Rafe, was kicked out in sixth grade. She makes a bet with him that her experiences will be different, but her brother's bad reputation haunts her from the start. Teachers see her last name and assume the worst. On her first day, she encounters the mean girl \"princesses\" and Miller the (mini) Killer. She soon realizes Rafe was right: HVMS is like a prison. Unlike her brother, though, she makes the best of it, finds a couple of good friends, and stands up to the bullying. Through a mean trick of Rafe's, Georgia's garage band is scheduled to play the school dance, which in the end turns out to be good thing. No spoiler here, but on the night of the dance she finds out a secret about herself that puts much of her experiences at HVMS in perspective. She also finds out Rafe is not such a bad brother after all.
Is it any good?
This plot-driven tale of a nice girl who's trying to do well while encountering common middle school struggles is an easy read with lots of illustrations by Laura Park. Although not very deep, it touches on many of the problems middle schoolers face, including bullying, fitting in, and making friends. And in a sea of middle school books geared to boys' experience, it's refreshing to find one that's told from a girl's perspective.
Talk to your kids about ...
What's it like to read a book in the Middle School series that's told from a girl's point of view instead of a boy's? What's different about it? What's similar?
When Georgia first meets fellow student Rhonda, she describes her as huge and doesn't want to be friends. How can body image affect how kids see themselves and others?
- Authors: James Patterson, Lisa Papademetriou
- Illustrator: Neil Swaab
- Genre: Humor
- Topics: Book Characters, Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, Great Girl Role Models, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
- Publication date: March 1, 2013
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 304
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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For kids who love School stories and books with strong heroines
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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.