Free Spirit Publishing, 2008. 978-1-57542-302-9
Synopsis: Six teens trying to figure out middle school share insights and tips that a reader won’t get anywhere else – hence the confidential status. Jack, Jen, Chris, Abby, Mateo, and Michelle are all trying to deal with some of the same issues middle schoolers and teens face every day: bullies, blow-ups, and self-doubt about popularity, self-image, and their individual abilities. Readers will discover ways to navigate middle school’s emotional minefields with tips about how to stay cool, deal with teasing, standing up for yourself, and being proud of who they are. Quizzes, quotes from other kids, tools, and a lot of handy resources can be found in each chapter that will help deal with the pressure of school and family life. The book is part of a series that helps kids learn the real deal about school, friends, family, and other tough issues.
Why I picked it up: It was being featured in a library display with books about homework help and how to fit in.
Why I finished it: The pseudo-comic/graphic novel format, the fun fonts, and the colorful pages have so much information that can be a great toolkit for middle schoolers – something I didn’t have when I went through Junior High. Each of the eight chapters deals with a different issue, such as self-image and how it affects our behavior, getting angry and losing your cool, getting stressed out, and being able to like who we are. It also offers facts about opinions and assumptions and how they can get in the way of being who we really are, want to be, or want to do. The drawings and the little stories that go along with each of the chapters are engaging and help to illustrate the issues being discussed. I also liked that the quizzes were included as a way of gauging how well we deal with the problem areas in our life. Even if the reader doesn’t exactly identify with one of the six main teens, they will likely find one of the quotes from other kids can reflect what they are feeling and thinking.
Other related materials: Real Friends vs. The Other Kind (Middle School Confidential Book 2) by Annie Fox, M.Ed.; What’s Up with My Family? (Middle School Confidential Book 3) by Annie Fox, M.Ed.; 100 Things Guys Need to Know by Bill Zimmerman; Too Old for This, Too Young for That!: Your Survival Guide for the Middle-School Years by Harriet S. Mosatche and Karen Unger; Middle School: The Real Deal: From Cafeteria Food to Combination Locks by Juliana Farrell, Beth Mayall, and Megan Howard; No B.O.!: The Head-to-Toe Book of Hygiene for Preteens by Marguerite Crump, M.A., M.Ed.; How to Do Homework without Throwing Up by Trevor Romain; Siblings: You’re Stuck with Each Other, So Stick Together by James C. Crist, Ph.D. and Elizabeth Verdick; Get Organized Without Losing It by Janet S. Fox; The Boy’s Body Book: Everything You Need to Know for Growing Up YOU by Kelli Dunham and Steven Bjorkman