Just Watch Me

Common Deer Pr. Oct. 2020. 135p. pap. $11.95. ISBN 9781988761541.
Gr 4-6–Twelve-year-old Simon has a lot on his plate. He’s a gamer who is good enough to compete in an all-Canadian competition whose finals will be held in Vancouver. He’d love to make it to the finals and bring his parents, hoping a trip to the place where they met could save their marriage and stop their fighting. They have said they would consider the trip if he earns straight A’s in seventh grade. He has developed a crush on his BFF, Jocelyn. The two have been friends since she moved to Toronto from the Philippines when they were in third grade. He’s also bullied relentlessly by the Mendelsohn twins. Simon is stressing over the project his technology teacher has assigned; it involves livestreamed videos that are uploaded to a private channel. Grading is based on originality and numbers of likes by classmates. This project is unrealistic enough to make any teacher cringe and fear for their job, but it might be up TikTok-obsessed readers’ alley. Simon is an appealing narrator. His videos are humorously disastrous, yet ironically popular among his classmates. Jocelyn is a well-drawn, passionate friend. Unfortunately, most of the adults and the twins veer toward one-dimensional stereotypes.
VERDICT Though Simon reads a bit young as a seventh grader, he’s relatable, and the breezy, sometimes slapstick humor will appeal to reluctant readers.

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