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Mini-Review: Planet Middle School (Nikki Grimes)

Planet Middle School 
Nikki Grimes 


Product Details


  • Reading level: Ages 9-12
  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens (September 13, 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 1599902842
  • Source: ARC from publisher in exchange for an honest review 
Planet Middle SchoolFor twelve years, Joylin Johnson's life has been just fine, thank you very much. A game of basketball with the boys-especially her friend Jake-was all it took to put a smile on her face. Baggy jeans, T-shirt, and hair in a ponytail were easy choices. Then suddenly the world seemed to turn upside down, and everything changed at once. Her best girl friend is now flirting with her best guy friend. Her clothes seem all wrong. Jake is acting weird, and basketball isn't the same. And worst of all, there is this guy, Santiago, who appears from . . . where? What lengths will Joy go to-and whom will she become-to attract his attention?

This "story" was written as narrative prose (poetry) so it flew by. I'm not sure it even took me a full hour to read this. If you like rhyming poetry, this is not your book. There are no rhymes here. In fact, these poems read like short paragraphs. I liked it, personally, and I think it would make "poetry" accessible to my students.

Joylin is a major tomboy that loves playing basketball with the boys. That is, until she meets Santiago. Suddenly, her heart is doing flip flops every time she sees him. She's even starting to change her look by wearing makeup, high heals, skirts, and earrings! Her friends aren't happy with her change because they know it isn't because Joy wants to do it. They seem to know that she is changing for Santiago, not for herself. When she realizes the truth, it's too late. Her heart is broken and her friendship with Jake lays in critical condition (along with Jake) at the hospital.

This isn't a weepy story. In fact, there are some pretty funny moments. It's a nice coming of age story for a young girl. At the heart of the story there is a girl trying to find her place and make sense of the changes in her body. This isn't my typical read, but I can see it being a good fit for a tween reader.

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