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Planet Middle School

Review

Planet Middle School

Every kid on the planet goes through a time in their lives when everything goes topsy-turvy. Their bodies change, their moods change, their attitudes change, and life seems like it’s completely different from what it was just yesterday.

Awarding-winning author Nikki Grimes understands the concept perfectly as is evidenced by the true-to-life characters in her latest book. Her main character, Joylin Johnson, feels like she has been dropped onto “Planet Middle School” by an alien spaceship. She keeps hoping the aliens will come and get her, and take her back to her old world on the “normal” planet Earth.

During middle school, Joylin suddenly starts noticing boys, and one in particular. She is a tomboy who plays a mean game of basketball, and up to this point, hoops has been the main focus of her day. But now she exchanges her usual attire of baggy jeans, t-shirts and tennis shoes for skirts, fitted shirts and heels --- and even makeup --- all in an effort to get Santiago to pay attention to her. She is not comfortable changing her complete look, but does so because she feels it’s important that he notices her.

When he doesn’t, her best friends --- Keelee, a preacher’s kid, and Jake, who has been her basketball buddy forever --- tell her that she needs to just be herself and quit trying to change who she is to impress anybody.

This is the kind of story any middle-school girl can relate to. Each chapter contains a short poem, and the writing is lively and expressive, making the text interesting to read (even if you’re not a big fan of poetry). The point of the book comes across with humor and realism as Nikki Grimes shines a light on the inner workings of a preteen’s brain.

Reviewed by Christine M. Irvin on September 13, 2011

Planet Middle School
by Nikki Grimes

  • Publication Date: September 13, 2011
  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
  • ISBN-10: 1599902842
  • ISBN-13: 9781599902845