Middle School’s a Drag, You Better Werk!

Putnam. Feb. 2020. 304p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780525517528.
Gr 4-6–Inspired by his grandfather’s many successful business ventures, Mikey has started Anything, Inc., a company that allows him to follow his dreams. His business takes off when he becomes a talent agent for several of his classmates, including Julian, a boy who performs drag as Coco Caliente, Mistress of Madness and Mayhem. Mikey schemes to assist Coco and his other clients in entering the school’s talent show in the hopes of sharing a piece of the 100 dollar prize. Along the way, Mikey must navigate school bullies and disapproving parents to learn what it really means to be yourself. With an easy, conversational writing style filled with the mishaps and shenanigans of middle school, this story will be accessible to a wide range of readers. Coco’s performance at the talent show is a fairly significant plot point; however, the focus is on Mikey and his desire to please his grandfather while also learning how to be himself at school. Readers will identify with Mikey as he deals with his annoying little sister, navigates the school cafeteria, and learns to feel compassion for his bullies. This is a heartwarming story perfect for fans of Tim Federle’s Better Nate Than Ever and Jordan Sonnenblick’s Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie.
VERDICT While the topic of drag performance has been covered in young adult books, fewer novels have discussed kids who perform drag and in a way that is accessible to a younger audience. A solid purchase for most public and school libraries.

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