The Middle School series is back with book #15 (yes, FIFTEEN!). It has been twelve years since I read the first title-Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life. I never reviewed that story as I found the main character, Rafe Khatchadorian, to be unforgettable and annoying.

My feelings weren’t shared by the intended audience as new titles continued to be released. I finally succumbed to pressure and read 2013’s Middle School: How I Survived Bullies. Broccoli, and Snake Hill. I was quite surprised that Rafe had finally won me over. His internal dialog was hilarious and the fast paced summer camp setting was a great fit for any reader, reluctant or not.

Despite not having the time to read any of the other titles, I couldn’t resist WINTER BLUNDERLAND because of the Alaska setting. Rafe’s narration is laugh out loud as he spends winter break in the cold and barren landscape of our 49th state. How this happens is revealed in the first chapters.


Things heat up at Hills Village Middle School when Rafe gets an invitation from Dr. Daria Deerwin to join a research study on polar bears. How many times in life do you get a chance to come face‑to‑face with a real polar bear in the wild? Rafe is ready to find out!

Alaska is pinkie‑freezing, hair‑freezing, snot‑freezing cold, but Rafe might be headed for a meltdown. He’s spending every waking moment with Penelope, who he definitely has a crush on, and a polar bear Dr. Deerwin is tracking goes missing…with poachers on the tundra. It’s up to Rafe, Penelope, and their new friends to save the day in Rafe’s coolest adventure yet.


The short 46 chapters are perfect for those less than enthusiastic readers who hate long chapters. No problem here as they will race through this adventure in a matter of days. Rafe’s first person narration is never boring and had me smiling throughout. There’s one calamity after another from snowmobiles to Russian Freighters.

If you’ve never read any of the titles in the series (Here they are) it won’t be a problem reading Winter Blunderland first. It’s also a great read-aloud in those spare minutes before bedtime or recess. Fun scene illustrations are scattered throughout. With all the bad news in the world, take time to smile with Rafe as your guide.

PAGE COUNT: 256 RELEASE DATE: November 7, 2022


  1. You learn about the outer reaches of Alaska where wildlife outnumber people. Felt like I was right beside Rafe as he deals with the elements.
  2. I’ve known quite a few middle grade kids who have not missed reading a single title in the series. This one does not disappoint and Rafe’s character arc continues to expand.
  3. Rafe’s first crush is handled splendidly. Those readers his same age will understand his awkward attempts at impressing Penelope, the daughter of Dr. Darian Deerwin, his adult guide on the trip.
  4. Rafe gets homesick, missing his family and the holidays he normally spends with mom, sister, and grandmother. The resolution is a heartwarming moment.
  5. Those who are “forced” to read every night have a friend in this series. It’s a win when a kid who hates to read will pick this one up and read it without asking.


James Patterson is the world’s bestselling author, best known for his many enduring fictional characters and series, including Alex Cross, the Women’s Murder Club, Michael Bennett, Maximum Ride, Middle School, I Funny, and Jacky Ha-Ha. Patterson’s writing career is characterized by a single mission: to prove to everyone, from children to adults, that there is no such thing as a person who “doesn’t like to read,” only people who haven’t found the right book. He’s given over a million books to schoolkids and over forty million dollars to support education, and endowed over five thousand college scholarships for teachers. He writes full-time and lives in Florida with his family.



About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...always striving to reach the next peak in my life and career.
This entry was posted in Middle Grade Book Reviews and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Good to know that you can don’t have to start at the beginning of the series. This sounds like a really different type of story for James Patterson. Thanks for sharing it this week.

  2. carolbaldwin says:

    Interesting series–I’ve never heard of it! Thanks for the review.

  3. Brenda says:

    It’s been a long while since I’ve read one of James Patterson’s books too. Glad to hear that you enjoyed it and the setting does sound intriguing. Happy MMGM

  4. At first glance at the cover I thought it was a Where’s Waldo book. Haven’t heard of this Patterson series before, but it sounds like a good book to get kids interested in saving wildlife. It looks like a fun read for reluctant readers. And, I like that you don’t need to start with the first book. May try this out on my grandson.

  5. Forced to read every night? Hmmm? 🙂
    Alaska sounds like a great setting for a story.

  6. James Patterson is hugely successful but I wonder who Brian Sitts is? Illustrator?? Writer?? Sounds an entertaining read, thanks for sharing!

  7. I noticed the early books in the series had a different writer than this one. James Patterson doesn’t actually write these; his co-authors do the work. That could explain the difference between the first and this one. It sounds like an amazing story. I’m putting this one on my TBR list. Thanks for such a review. I love the title.

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