Reading/Interest Level: Intermediate, Young Adult
Author: Robin Mellom
Illustrator: Stephen Gilpin
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
By the end of the first day of seventh grade you need to have a date for the fall dance, everybody knows that. The person you go with will set the precedent for all your future dances, everybody knew that too, except for Trevor Jones. He just heard it from his best friend Libby. He learned everything socially important from Libby. They’d spent all of their holiday’s together, even President’s Day, for as long as he could remember—they even potty-trained together. But it sounded like she wanted that to change, she said they couldn’t be friends friends anymore. It was only the first day and he felt completely hopeless and lost, plus where were the bathrooms in this place? The documentary follows Trevor through his first day and week of middle school introducing other characters that are classmates, friends, or school mates along the way. Trevor is finally able to overcome his record of having only one friend, get a date to the dance, come late to class for the first time, and even get himself detention.
This book is a fusion of middle schooler's notebooks drawings, secretly passed notes, internal dialogues, and one-on-one interviews with the documentary crew trying to capture the average middle schooler's and average days. Mellom is able to capture the nervousness, self-questioning, and social anxieties that middle school students (and most everyone) experience on their first day somewhere like the pressure to create an image for themselves, or maintain one. Mollom also portrays other pressures such as the hope of setting a good precedence, impressing others, and maybe even branching out from the norm. This book is a well-structured, ‘documentary’ of the struggles and social confusion students face in the average, slightly-above average, extremely average, and rare but totally epic moments of school life. An enjoyable read with a creative structure and realistic student illustrations.