Thursday, January 24, 2008

Stuck in the Middle: Seventeen Comics from an Unpleasant Age

Schrag, Ariel, ed. 2007. STUCK IN THE MIDDLE: SEVENTEEN COMICS FROM AN UNPLEASANT AGE. New York: Viking. ISBN 978067062218 [Suggested Grade Levels 6-9]

Remember being 13? For most of us, it is a time to forget. Sixteen graphic novel cartoonists have contributed to this angst-riddled volume about the trials and travails of being in middle school “when you are too old to play with toy cars but you’re too young to drive a real one; the years when your best friend suddenly decides you’re not cool enough for her, or vice-versa; the years when you think no on—no one—has ever felt this way before.”

The topics and styles of drawing and writing are varied, and to be honest, at times uneven, but this is a collection that is not only for the middle schooler, but for anyone who has survived middle school. Note that some situations and language in the book are definitely are young adult.

With many middle schools having “home room” or other times during the school day where the teacher is supposed to deal with issues other than curriculum, this book could be an excellent discussion starter. All stories deal to some degree with peer pressures and peer relationships which are major concerns to middle schoolers. Parts of the book would also work for discussion in health classes/ self-esteem workshops.

Art teachers could use the book to look at styles of illustration and cartooning. An integrated unit between art and writing classes would also work with students writing and illustrating their own “stuck in the middle” stories.

Other books about surviving middle school:
Choldenko, Gennifer. IF A TREE FALLS AT LUNCH PERIOD. ISBN 9780152057534

By Janet Hilbun

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