I previously reviewed John David Anderson’s MS. BIXBY’S LAST DAY, the heartfelt tribute by three sixth grade boys to the teacher they adore. POSTED is also about a group of boys, this time an older group in 8th grade. The focus is on how words can hurt and heal and make you think.
As an adult reader I found myself reliving my own middle school years. The tense first weeks, finding my tribe—the people you would hang with, and avoiding those kids who looked like they might stuff you in a trash can at a moment’s notice. It was sad to look back because the closeness of my tribe didn’t last past ninth grade. Some went off to different high schools and soon different careers…different neighborhoods. We formed new tribes and let the other ones drift away as part of our past. Maybe a birthday or Christmas card is all that’s left of those connections. It’s the way life often works.
POSTED is in the transition zone between MG (8-12 years old; sometimes 13) and YA. (12/13–18). The listed audience is 10-14 or Upper MG as it has been called. It’s a great story, but I have the feeling adults will swoon over it more than kids. At 369 pages it’s a hard sell for any but the most avid MG reader. The best outlet for POSTED would be as a part of a reading discussion group. That way all of the issues like bullying, acceptance, and the power of the written or spoken word could be explored in depth.
The story is very believable. Starting with the elimination of cell phone use in a middle school. Texting in its modern form goes away followed by students posting notes on lockers. Nice ones at first but it soon heads downhill…in more ways than one. The overall message is a cry for change for those who don’t fit in. Bravo to the author for tackling this sensitive subject.
PUBLICATION DATE: 2017 PAGE COUNT: 369
FULL PLOT (From HARPER COLLINS PUBLISHERS)
In middle school, words aren’t just words. They can be weapons. They can be gifts. The right words can win you friends or make you enemies. They can come back to haunt you. Sometimes they can change things forever.
When cell phones are banned at Branton Middle School, Frost and his friends Deedee, Wolf, and Bench come up with a new way to communicate: leaving sticky notes for each other all around the school. It catches on, and soon all the kids in school are leaving notes—though for every kind and friendly one, there is a cutting and cruel one as well.
In the middle of this, a new girl named Rose arrives at school and sits at Frost’s lunch table. Rose is not like anyone else at Branton Middle School, and it’s clear that the close circle of friends Frost has made for himself won’t easily hold another. As the sticky-note war escalates, and the pressure to choose sides mounts, Frost soon realizes that after this year, nothing will ever be the same.
FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT: FROST by John David Anderson
- The characters. They each have a nickname (Frost, Bench, Wolf, and Deedee). They sit together at lunch, hang out after school, and find friendship in a variety of ways. It’s how kids survive having a group to call their own. I too would have been at their table.
- This is middle school and it hasn’t changed much in the past thirty years. Here’s hoping this story will provide a nudge in the right direction to make things different.
- There are no loose threads except for one—What will these kids be like in four years? A YA sequel set in their senior year would be hard to resist.
- Divorce is handled with raw emotion. Too often it’s assumed that the kids will be all right. As shown here parents splitting up can have long lasting effects.
- A realistic view of bullying. None better.
I know what you are going to say: sticks, stones, and broken bones, but words can kick you in the gut. They wriggle underneath your skin and start to itch. They set your hooks into you and pull. Words accumulate like a cancer, and then they eat away at you until there is nothing left. And once they are let loose there really is no taking them back.
FROM Mr. Anderson’s WEBSITE:
The sticky-note challenge
Make a comment if you have time. I enjoy reading all of them. Click on the comments link below.
Check the links to other Middle Grade novels over at Shannon Messenger’s Marvelous Middle Grade Monday post.