Joylin Johnson’s world is made up of her friends and her love of basketball; these are the constants in her life. But as adolescence approaches, life changes and so do the all of Joylin’s constants. Where once Joylin and her best friend KeeLee spend most of their time together, now they are hard pressed to find time to talk. Her basketball partner, Jake is noticing girls, Joylin’s younger brother is desperate to have their father appreciate his artistic talents and worst of all there is a new boy who makes Joylin’s heart flutter every time she sees him. If Joylin could just stop time and make everything stay the same she could deal with it, unfortunately that is not how the world works.
This book captures all the ups and downs of a typical middle school student’s life and retells it in free verse. Grimes is able to recreate the confusion, angst and impatience with growing up through her poetry yet she is also able to convey the humor that can be found in everyday life. I enjoyed reading this book; it reminded me a bit of some of my middle school years. I think readers in grades 5 and up will also enjoy reading it.
Planet Middle School by Nikki Grimes. Bloomsbury Children’s Books, NY 2011.