Middle School Misadventures: Dance Disaster

Little, Brown. (Middle School Misadventures: Bk. 3). Apr. 2022. 240p. Tr $24.99. ISBN 9780759556621; pap. $12.99. ISBN 9780759556638.
Gr 4-8–Newell’s life is turned upside down by the seemingly innocuous announcement of a school dance. A related jinx seems to curse every day leading up to the dance. Newell’s resistance to changes such as friends asking each other out to the dance and his newly dating father might be affecting his attitude, too. Platt specializes in the tween perspective, including insecurity around others dating and seeing teenagers as unrelatable zombies. Seemingly ordinary events in Newell’s life take on the visual and narrative significance of tall tales, from an epic bike jump to someone slipping in the cafeteria. Friends and schoolmates form a valuable supporting cast who don’t always understand him but are generally wholesome influences. The fairly tame subject matter is elevated by solid cartooning, such as when Newell sneaks around the edges of panels as he monologues about dodging his jinx.
VERDICT Tweens will find themselves effortlessly involved in this mostly stand-alone story of a young man who must learn to accept change and find his own role within it.

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