January 16, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Parents, Privacy, and Pesky Sibs: A Middle School Perspective | Touch and Go

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Titles in Annie Fox’s “Middle School Confidential” series have been popular with middle grade readers since they were first published in print. The books—and apps—tackle real-life situations and issues—from self-confidence and stress to friendships and crushes—that a group of fictional tweens and teens encounter, along with positive suggestions and commentary. The first two titles in the series, Be Confident in Who You Are  and Real Friends vs. the Other Kind (available in iOS and Android) were reviewed in this column earlier; we wanted to make sure this app received a review as well. Chris Gustafson reviews it here.

IMG_0913What’s Up With My Family? (Electric Eggplant, iOS $2.99; Gr 5-9) is the app version of a graphic novel from Annie Fox’s “Middle School Confidential” series illustrated by Matt Kindt. Six diverse friends share stories of their family conflicts and each concludes with a brief quiz ranging from five to 10 questions. Choosing the right or the wrong answer links to a clarifying explanation. Chapter topics covered include helicopter parents, how to handle hurtful comments about your body, name calling, step-family relationships, and more. An epilogue provides resolution to each story at the end of the app. Stories can be read full page most easily in portrait orientation or, with two taps, just one colorful panel or a part of one will appear at a time, narrowing the visual focus and slowing down the reading experience.

There’s not a great deal to distinguish the app experience from that of the book (Free Spirit, 2010) besides some sound effects and music, plus the opportunity to click on a link to introduce all the characters. Pushing a button on the bottom right of the screen allows readers to jump between chapters. Apps based on books can greatly enhance and even transform the reading experience. This app offers a serviceable electronic version of the original book.–Chris Gustafson, Whitman Middle School Library Teacher, Seattle School District

For additional app reviews, visit School Library Journal’s dedicated app page and be sure to take a look at our “Top Ten Apps 2015.”

Daryl Grabarek About Daryl Grabarek

Daryl Grabarek dgrabarek@mediasourceinc.com is the editor of School Library Journal's monthly enewsletter, Curriculum Connections, and its online column Touch and Go. Before coming to SLJ, she held librarian positions in private, school, public, and college libraries. Her dream is to manage a collection on a remote island in the South Pacific.

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