How to Rock, a comedy series based on Meg Haston’s novel How to Rock Braces and Glasses (Little, Brown, 2011), premiered on Teen Nick in February. Pitched toward the Drake & Josh crowd, the show combines storylines centered around school and friendship issues with pop/hip-hop music performances and an upbeat be-yourself message. Singer/actress Cymphonique Miller (daughter of rapper Master P and sister to Lil’ Romeo) stars as Kacey Simon, one-time queen bee of The Perfs (Brewster’s High’s most popular girls), whose brief stint wearing geeky glasses and metal braces has caused her social status to plummet.
Immediately jettisoned by ex-BFF Molly (Samantha Boscarino) and the rest of the mean-girl clique, Kacey is still determined to stand out and forges unlikely friendships with the members of a band, including the cool and confident Zander (Max Schneider), self-assured tomboy and bass-player Stevie (Lulu Antariksa), tech-savvy keyboardist Nelson (Noah Crawford), and girl-shy drummer Kevin (Christopher O’Neal). Stepping up as lead singer for Gravity 5, Kacey is ready to rock and to outshine her former friends and their eponymously named band on both the stage and the school’s social scene. The series, which has consistently averaged an audience of more than 2 million viewers, recently began airing new episodes and will conclude on December 8.
Nick’s “How to Rock” website introduces the characters with brief bios and photos, showcases a large selection of videos and clips (and several full episodes), and provides access to message boards. A “Ready to Rock” section takes viewers behind the scenes with Cymphonique to meet the cast and get a glimpse at the filming the series, watch her lay down tracks in the recording studio, find out how she spends her free time, and more. Alloy Entertainment’s official site, geared toward both the TV show and Haston’s novel, includes posts about the cast and characters, episode recaps, videos, and book and author info. Also featured are photos and stories about celebrities who know how to rock braces and glasses, self-image-empowering style and cosmetics tips for teens (e.g., suggestions for taking a great yearbook photo, or eye makeup ideas for those who wear glasses) and advice about social situations (“How to Deal with a Broken Heart”).
How to Rock the Books
Fans of the TV show—and lovers of breezy chick lit—will enjoy discovering the book that inspired the characters and plot scenario. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers’ Poppy imprint has reissued Haston’s novel (2012; Gr 5-8) with a bright-hued media tie-in cover featuring a microphone-holding Cymphonique along with other members of the cast. Kacey’s first-person narrative is filled with humor, snappy dialogue, and genuine emotion. The snarky seventh-grader is at the top of her game—she has her own (not-so-nice) advice show on the school’s TV station, the lead in the upcoming musical and an undisputed role as the most popular clique’s most popular member. However, due to unforeseen events (an eye infection and roller-skating disaster), Kacey is left with thick tortoise-shell glasses, metal braces, and a (temporary) lisp.
Suddenly, her world is turned upside down: she is dropped by her so-called friends, ridiculed by classmates, and forced to put her public speaking endeavors on hold (until she gets “uthed” to her braces). After befriending Zander, a skinny-jeans-wearing boy new to the school, Kasey discovers a fresh outlet for her creativity as the lead singer in his band (…as well as the first stirrings of a crush). As she begins to regain her former social status, and (unfortunately) some of her trademark attitude, she is forced to make some eye-opening discoveries about herself and how she has treated others. Facing tough choices, she doesn’t always make the right decision, but ultimately follows a path that reveals much about putting people before popularity, appreciating individuality, and learning to be true to one’s self. The book is also available in paperback with the original cover.
Kacey’s adventures continue in How to Rock Break-Ups and Make-Ups (Little, Brown, 2012; Gr 5-8), as humorous angst and pranks gone comically wrong blend with descriptions of to-die-for outfits, squeal-filled girl time, and a heart-racing first kiss. Just when Kacey is feeling like she is back in her groove (sans the mean-girl attitude), and sparks are flying between Zander and her, his gorgeous and talented ex-girlfriend arrives in town. It’s dislike at first sight between Kacey and Stevie, and Kacey launches an intricate and ill-considered scheme to take her rival down (and get her in big trouble during a field trip). To make matters worse, the two girls discover that their parents, both divorced, have begun dating and are looking particularly starry-eyed. Determined not to become stepsisters, the teens reluctantly forge an alliance and initiate a plot to break up the lovebirds.
Unfortunately, they do not anticipate how their actions will affect the people they care about. Once again, Kacey comes across as believably less-than-perfect, and though she makes whopper-size mistakes, she gradually sees the light and tries to make things right. Entertaining dialogue, comically exaggerated plot elements, and well-timed dabs of sincere emotion make for a fast and lively read. Suggest the book series to TV fans looking for something more after the show airs its final episode.
HASTON, Meg. How to Rock Braces and Glasses. Media tie-in ed. 2011. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-316-21273-1. pap. $7.99. ISBN 978-0-316-06824-6; eBook $9.99 ISBN 978-0-316-19289-7.
_____. How to Rock Break-Ups and Make-Ups. 2012. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-316-06826-0.
ea vol: Little, Brown/Poppy.
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