Graphic novels are a huge win for middle grade readers, and this one is a beautifully illustrated one exploring a powerful theme: Bullying.
Genre: Graphic Novel
Screening: fat shaming/bullying, some music, some mentions of dating/crushes in side characters, one word bada$$. (Nothing really majorly problematic for the age group)
Jensen is struggling in middle school. Math is difficult, the art club excludes him (even though its his passion), and 2 bullies are out to get him. When the newspaper club (amongst whom is a hijabi character) stands up for him and asks him to help, he get excited…until he finds out their project is about bullying. But Jensen doesn’t think he gets bullied, does he…? When a student is suspended for wearing too short a skirt, Jensen gains a voice in resisting bullying, whether its from peers or the school administration.
The book discusses the topic of bullying really well. Definitions and questions about what bullying is and how to know if you are bullied are discussed, as well as solutions and ways of coping. Topics such as true friendship, striving to work harder, and being brave are a learned theme too.
Jensen is an adorable main character, and the reader feels their heart hurt when he is bullied. Books like this are valuable to teach that bullying is wrong and to teach children to reach out when a classmate might be feeling isolated.
Muslim rep: Akilah is a side character who wears hijab, but nothing else Islamic is in the book.
A universal book for any readers, and a fun engaging read.
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