Six Kids and a Stuffed Cat

144p. S. & S. May 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781481452236.
Gr 6–9—Paulsen's latest book takes place in the boys' restroom of RJ Glavine Middle School. Six boys on temporary lockdown during a potential severe weather alert start out as strangers and leave with a better understanding of one another. The character stereotypes (the class clown, the overachiever, the new kid, the would-be rock star, etc.) make this reminiscent of an all-male version of The Breakfast Club. The short novel is accompanied by the story written in play form, offering an opportunity for a readers' theater performance. The stuffed cat in the title gives the false sense that the book may appeal to younger readers, but the middle school-age characters speak and act in ways more mature than the typical preteen. The stereotypes work better in play form than in prose; still, it is hard to imagine a real 14-year-old saying, "What's bogus about the fact that it was a Thursday of a full moon week and my horoscope warned me to avoid oral conflict?"
VERDICT A quick read for fans of relationship fiction.

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