This is an A+ collection of stories, texts, emails, first person narratives, and a short novel. Each is written with insight, humor and heart to shed light on the world of middle school. Betsy Groban is the editor who brought together this collection from best-selling and award-winning authors such as Lois Lowry and Linda Sue Park.
One selection titled “What Planet Are You From?” by Gregory Maguire is a delightful story of twin sisters who might be assigned to go to different middle schools in the fall. Midge loves to pretend and talk like she is a southern belle; Bridget is practical but patient. Being raised by their grandmother, the twins have been separated from their mom and their dad but never separated from each other. Whatever will they do?
Another selection, “Dog People,” is the story of a girl who decides to join the Animal Welfare Club as a new 6th-grader in her middle school. Lucy has an adoring dog named Kimchi who adds much to the narrative as he communicates with the other pets and gives us insights into their owners. Lucy learns that with their dogs as friends, she can accept and even admire a boy in the Club who seemed so odd at first.
“TBH I Need Help!!” is a clever series of texts and Facetime conversations between Amanda and her older cousin Katie. Amanda, who has moved away and is starting middle school, is feeling a bit panicked by all the changes. These conversations share the help and support she receives from an older and wiser cousin through her first semester.
“The Top 10 Things to Do Before Middle School” is the final and very practical selection.
It was a joy to read and recall some of the anguish, insecurities, and wondrous discoveries of those years. TOTALLY MIDDLE SCHOOL should be a must-read in every sixth- or seventh-grade home room. There was nothing offensive in the book. (The word “hell” was used twice as the only swear word in the book.)