Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Misfits, by James Howe, 2001

Bobby, Addie, Joe, and Skeezie (aka Lardo, Beanpole, Fairy, and Greaseball) are a seventh-grade "Gang of Five," just to keep people guessing. Addie gets it into her CEO-type brain that they should form a new political party at Paintbrush Falls Middle School, and run for student office on the Freedom platform, but Bobby figures out that putting an end to name-calling is the real freedom Paintbrush Falls middle schoolers need. Memorable characters, humor, and voice complement a playful tone that successfully imparts a serious message. The text's many pleasures outweigh its to-be-expected preaching, and if the "Gang of Five" feels more like college freshmen than seventh graders in their activism, introspection, and witty repartees, I forgive them. Recommended.

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