Friday, May 17, 2013

Stuck in the Middle (of middle school) by Karen Romano Young

This is the sequel to Doodlebug, which tells the story of Doreen (Doodlebug) and her family who have to move when she gets kicked out of school (long story, involving ADHD meds). In this story, there's lots of little problems as they all adjust to new schools, new friends, and new jobs. Most of the tension in the plot comes from her dad's struggle to find work and be comfortable with her mom's success and Doodlebug's younger sister's clash with the queen bees at her new school.

This is written/drawn in the style of Amelia's Notebooks by Marissa Moss, with lots of speech bubbles, doodles, and odd fonts all crammed in together. I have to admit, it drove me crazy trying to read it and this is one notebook novel I probably wouldn't hand to a reluctant reader, usually the top audience for these titles. However, the first book has done quite well at our library and if you can get past the extremely busy format there's a strong story, dealing with real issues, in the book.

I especially found the interaction between Doodlebug and her teachers to really strike home. I can see a lot of my after school middle school crowd acting in exactly this way and dealing with many similar problems at home.

Verdict: With a little booktalking this will appeal to a more mature, older middle school audience than Ellie McDoodle or Dork Diaries. I think I'd emphasize how Doodlebug deals with her problems rather than the humorous aspects of the book as that's likely to pick up a more appropriate audience for this story. If you have the first book, you'll probably want to add the second.

ISBN: 9780312555962; Published March 2013 by Feiwel and Friends/Macmillan; ARC provided by publisher at ALA Midwinter 2013; Purchased for the library

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