Five Reasons to Read It #7: EIGHTH GRADE SUPERZERO

Happy Friday!  Here’s a good one for all you teachers and parents of middle and high schoolers who are looking for something funny, engaging, uplifting and relevant.  I recently finished:

By Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich
Arthur A. Levine Books, 2010

Here are five reasons to read it:

1.  It’s About Something.  Specifically, it’s about how Reggie McKnight, the young protagonist, grapples with his social status and his personal beliefs until he realizes that he is capable of making a meaningful contribution to his community. “Think global; act local.” Little pebbles have big ripple effects. This book follows Reggie’s personal ripple effect upon his world. Without shoving it down your throat, without even making you feel guilty (somehow, I don’t know how Rhuday-Perkovich managed it), this book is about bullying and homelessness, family and politics, community and transformation – and even God. 

2.  Even though it’s About Something, that something is wrapped tightly around Reggie, a very human 8th-grade boy.  And boy howdy, is he ever an 8th-grade boy.  I am something of an expert here, and Reggie’s voice, both in his mind and in his mouth, sounds not one false note.  He sounds just like them, was all I could think, as I read it.  He’s my kids.  They will love this. Sure enough, just yesterday, I saw one of my kids reading this book.  “I really like that one!” I said, and the kid nodded and grinned.  “Yeah,” he said. “It’s good.”  The middle schoolers, they do not give these compliments lightly.

3.  Because Reggie is a true 8th-grade boy, this book is very funny.  I laughed out loud many times.  I snickered a lot, too.

4.  The Dora shoes. My inner 8th-grade girl fell in love with Reggie in that moment.

5.  Rhuday-Perkovich deftly manages a large cast and a broad idea.  Reggie deals with different casts of characters at school, at home, at church, and at the Olive Branch shelter, and as these casts intertwine and affect one another, things actually become simpler rather than more complicated – which is kind of the point.  Nicely done.


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