The Boys in the Back Row by Mike Jung

Published by Levine Querido

Boys in the Back Row - Kindle edition by Jung, Mike. Children Kindle eBooks  @ Amazon.com.

Summary:  Matt’s happy to have switched from flute to bass drum for marching band. Not only will he stop getting teased for playing a “girl’s instrument”, he’ll get to be in the drum line with his best friend Eric.  The boys are excited to learn that the band will be participating in the big World of Amazement band competition.  When they find out that the DefenderCon comic event is right next door the same weekend as the competition, they hatch a plan to escape on the last day of the trip to attend the convention.  Sean, a trumpet player who’s best friends with the biggest bully in the band, finds out about their plan, and wants in.  When Eric learns that he’s moving at the end of the school year, it suddenly becomes even more important for the two friends to get to DefenderCon–without Sean.  The trip to the World of Amazement turns out to be a day no one is likely to forget anytime soon, and nothing turns out the way Matt or Eric could have possibly imagined. But each boy proves his loyalty to the other one in amazing ways, and it seems as though their friendship will endure even when they’re living on opposite sides of the country.  272 pages; grades 4-7.

Pros:  As a former band geek myself, I enjoyed pretty much everything about this book.  “We’re proud of being in the band, even though we’re also super embarrassed about being in the band.”  Exactly.  But what I loved the most was Matt and Eric’s friendship.  There are many middle grade books about girl best friends, but it’s rare to see a boy friendship like this one.  And they have to deal with a lot of bullying and homophobia because of it (they have a funny and heartfelt conversation about being gay, and decide they are not).  I also got a kick out of (and could relate to) Matt’s earnestly lefty Unitarian parents.

Cons:  I felt that World of Amazement could have been more creatively named. 

If you would like to buy this book on Amazon, click here.

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