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Publisher: Delacorte Press
Year Published: 2018
ISBN: 9781524772208
Grades: Grade 5, Grade 6, Grades 7 to 9

Totally Middle School – Tales of Friends, Family and Fitting In

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“Brimming with heart and humour, these poignant stories from bestselling and award-winning authors shine a light on the moments when everything is thrilling and terrifying at the same time…”  (Edmonton Public Library)
Totally Middle School is a collection of eleven short stories by well-known authors about their own middle school experiences, their expectations, fears, loneliness, friendships or lack thereof, good experiences and embarrassing moments.  Some of the authors with familiar books in elementary school libraries include Lois Lowry, Gary Schmidt, Karen Cushman, Katherine Paterson, Linda Sue Park, and David Wiesner, to name a few.  The stories are organized under three main headings – Family, Friends and Fitting In, and Finding Yourself.  The characters are ethnically diverse, some male but more female protagonists, and most are just beginning Grade Six with all the anxieties of a new, larger school, new larger student body and more teachers.  In the story by Linda Sue Park, co-authored with her daughter Anna Dobbin, one of the characters is the family dog whose viewpoint and voice is heard and expressed in a different font type.  David Wiesner contributed a short graphic-style story to describe what made middle school special for him.  Hena Khan’s account of fitting in as a Pakistani immigrant will resonate with many of our new Canadian students.
The stories come in a variety of styles – diary, free verse, a texting conversation between two cousins, and the narrative form.  At the end of each story there is a picture of the author as he/she looked as a teenager, and a short biography of their middle school dreams and their adult accomplishments.
This collection shares many voices and perspectives on the challenges of approaching adolescence.
In addition, this anthology would be a good model for teaching the short story genre and free verse narrative.

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