Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Summary: A poem starts things off, beginning, “Dear weird toes/crooked nose/stressed out, left out/freaked out,” and concluding, “This party’s for you.” If you’re thinking middle school, you’re on the right track, as all the stories take place at Bridger Middle School. There’s the one about Katya, who’s dealing with a destructive Voice in her head. A choose-your-own adventure story that give readers a chance to try out alternative endings. Cora’s revenge against the mean girls that ends up backfiring. And it’s not just stories; there are “ads” for Happy Heads and Happy Friends, personality quizzes, and a letter from the Department of Insecurity. The final poem bids the reader farewell, with thanks for coming to the party, and encouragement to “go on out there and be the/totally awkward/anxious/odd/normal/lovable/singular/human that you are.” 224 pages; grades 4-7.
Pros: Kathleen Lane has her finger firmly on the pulse of middle school with this quirky collection. These stories are funny in a weird way that middle school kids will love, and also captures the insecurity that we all remember so well. The kooky format will engage readers, too. I’ve seen this mentioned as a Newbery contender; it’s currently at #16 on the Goodreads list.
Cons: While I’m sure there are elementary kids who would enjoy this book, I think it will be appreciated more by those who are living through puberty.