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Middle School
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About the Author

JAMES PATTERSON is one of the best-known and biggest-selling writers of all time. He is the author of the bestselling series for young readers, Maximum Ride, Daniel X and Witch & Wizard. This is as well as writing three of the top detective series around - the Alex Cross, Women's Murder Club and Detective Michael Bennett novels - and many other number one bestsellers including romance novels and stand-alone thrillers. He lives in Florida with his wife and son. James is passionate about encouraging children to read. He was inspired by his own son, who was a reluctant reader, to write books specifically for young readers. James has also formed a partnership with the National Literacy Trust, an independent, UK-based charity that changes lives through literacy. In 2010, he was voted Author of the Year at the Children's Choice Book Awards in New York.

Reviews

Patterson turns from the governmental oppression of his Witch & Wizard series to a more everyday form: the social and academic confines of middle school. Emboldened by his friend Leo, newly minted sixth-grader Rafe Khatchadorian embarks on a plan to break every one of his school's rules, frustrating his teachers, causing his grades to suffer, and landing him in detention. Things aren't any better at home, due to the constant, unpleasant presence of "Bear," who Rafe's mother is dating. Park's cartoons are pitch-perfect and do their share of storytelling, sometimes betraying the gap between Rafe's version of events and reality (in one scene, a teacher, portrayed as a dragon, screams, "I don't want to eat you. Just talk to me"). The subject matter gets surprisingly dark, particularly regarding Bear's emotional abusiveness and two twists involving Rafe's relationship with Leo, though the latter arrives so late its impact is weakened. But the book's ultrashort chapters, dynamic artwork, and message that "normal is boring" should go a long way toward assuring kids who don't fit the mold that there's a place for them, too. Ages 8-12. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Gr 5-8-The first 20 pages of this novel seem to be a blueprint for classic middle-school rebellion. As the story continues, Patterson's ability to hog-tie his target audience into a sympathetic relationship with Rafe, the sixth-grade protagonist, becomes clear. Along with his friend Leo the Silent, Rafe concocts a plan to break every rule in the Hills Village Middle School Code of Conduct by the end of the year, creating palpable tension between him and every adult character in the book. As Patterson artfully weaves a deeper and more thought-provoking tale of childhood coping mechanisms and everyday school and family realities, readers are drawn into a deeper understanding of and compassion for the main characters. Taking the best of the "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" (Abrams) formula, he successfully melds it with an emotional and, at times, unexpected journey. Hand this book to misbehaving, socially awkward, or disengaged boys and girls who are willing to take it. It might help them believe that there is a place for them in the world, no matter how dire times may seem in the present.-Colleen S. Banick, Tomlinson Middle School, Fairfield, CT (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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