Nick doesn’t fit in at Emily Dickinson Middle School thus finding himself the target of Roy’s bullying. Things only get worse when Dr. Daniels, a well-intentioned guidance counselor, decides that he and two other outcasts need the better socialization skills that can ostensibly be garnered by participating in the campus Safety Patrol. Albeit things only get worse before getting better, the gang eventually secures a hard-won transformation and is ready to face whatever comes at them. In the tradition of shaggy dog stories, cartoonist Michael Fry humorously tackles the nature of bullying in a laugh-out-loud romp in which the characters also explore awkward romance and the meaning of friendship, compassion, and confidence. Although the target audience is clearly late elementary to middle grade readers, the protagonist is a comical blend of mature-beyond-his-years observations and school-yard humor that will appeal to a wide age range. Furthermore, illustrating Nick’s internal monologue with depictions of his mother’s ninja-like skills, his quirky grandmother, and the enigmatic Mr. Dupree along with a quick nod at St. Exupery, Fry’s zany illustrations are reminiscent of Charles Schultz as they humorously contrast objective and emotional reality – a feature that an older audience will relish.
- Christina Taylor, RRHS Co-librarian