Middle School: Get Me Out of Here! by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts, illustrated by Laura Park. May 7, 2012. Little, Brown. 288 pages. ISBN: 9780316206716
Poor Rafe Khatchadorian. Things wrapped up so nicely for him at the end of sixth grade, but his happiness didn’t last long. His mom lost her job, forcing the whole family to relocate to the city where his grandmother lives. Now he has to start at a serious art school, where most kids already have a year under their belts, and where the only kid who wants to be his friend is Matty the Freak, whose motives are questionable at best. Naturally, Leo the Silent, Rafe’s inner voice and muse, has a plan - Operation Get a Life! Every day, Rafe has to do something he’s never done before in order to earn points. He and Leo make sure to include a rule that no one - not even Rafe - can be hurt during this process, but that doesn’t stop Rafe from getting into trouble all over again.
Patterson won me over once again with Middle School: Get Me Out of Here!. Rafe is just the ultimate underdog, and he’s so easy to root for. I especially relate to his challenges in making friends. I didn’t have many good friends in middle school, and Patterson understands how that feels, and doesn’t try to cheer the reader up by fixing the problem too easily. Sometimes I get lost when Rafe goes into fantasy mode, such as when he likens his interview at his city art school to a sword fight with a series of enemies - I really wish there were a clearer way to know what is actually happening during those sequences - but it doesn’t happen often, and those passages do highlight Rafe’s imagination.
Rafe’s imagination is also alive and well in his drawings on the pages of this book. Laura Park does such a wonderful job on the art in these books. I think they’re much better illustrated than either Diary of a Wimpy Kid or Dork Diaries, and they say so much in just a few pages. I especially love the subtle inclusion of Leo the Silent at certain points, acting as angel or devil.
I’m pleased to know that there will be at least one more book set in this universe. Middle School: My Brother is a Big Fat Liar is scheduled to come out in March, and it gives us Georgia Khatchadorian’s take on middle school, which isn’t easy for her after Rafe’s bad behavior. Patterson also has another middle school book in the works, entitled I Funny, which will be out in December. It looks possibly even better than the Middle School series, and I can’t wait to read it!
I borrowed Middle School: Get Me Out of Here! from my local public library.
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