The Epic Documentary of a Not-Yet-Epic Kid (The Classroom Series)

The Epic Documentary of a Not-Yet-Epic Kid (The Classroom Series)

by Robin Mellom, Stephen Gilpin
     
 

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A documentary crew has descended upon Westside Middle School to detail the life of an average seventh grader and his classmates.

What they uncover, though, is far from average. Mostly, it is upper average along with moments of extreme average, highlighted by severalminutes of total epicness.

Trevor Jones has been preparing for the start of

Overview

A documentary crew has descended upon Westside Middle School to detail the life of an average seventh grader and his classmates.

What they uncover, though, is far from average. Mostly, it is upper average along with moments of extreme average, highlighted by severalminutes of total epicness.

Trevor Jones has been preparing for the start of seventh grade his entire summer. But he is NOT ready for the news his best friend, Libby, drops on him at the bus stop: he needs to branch out and make new friends. Oh, and he must ask a girl to the fall dance. By the end of the day.

Trevor decides that he would rather squirt hot sauce in his eyes than attend the dance. Everything changes, though, when he meets mysterious new student Molly. Trevor starts to think that going to the dance maybe wouldn’t be the worst thing ever. But with detention-wielding teachers, school gossips, and, worst of all, eighth graders conspiring against him, Trevor will have to do the one thing he wasn’t prepared to do: be epic.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
“This documentary set out to show the real story of Trevor, along with his normal, everyday, average classmates.... Westside is their middle school. And these are their stories.” With an introduction like that (and the subtitle), readers may expect more of a documentary-style novel than what Mellom (Ditched: A Love Story) actually delivers in her first middle-grade novel. Most of her story unfolds through good old third-person omniscient narration, interspersed with occasional “interviews” with seventh-grader Trevor Jones and his classmates. Fortunately, Mellom has a gift for school-days humor, and her novel is very entertaining. Trevor, a consummate worrier, and Libby, a consummate planner, have been best friends for years, but as they begin the school year, Libby, tired of covering for Trevor’s (many) gaffes, believes it is time for them to make new friends. Gilpin’s spot art (not all seen by PW) is a mix of notes, cartoons, and other “found materials” that add to the book’s sense of fun as romantic entanglements and misunderstandings proliferate in the days leading up to the school dance. Ages 9–12. Agent: Jill Corcoran, the Herman Agency. (June)
From the Publisher
Gr 4-7 Trevor Jones admits that he's obsessive and a little neurotic, but his best friend, Libby, has stuck by him and defended him throughout elementary school and he's depending on her to continue to do so. But while they wait for the bus on the first day of middle school, she explains to him that he's on his own now. Seventh grade is a whole new ball game with new rules and new friends and she can't have him tagging along. Trevor seems shell-shocked and is just hoping his sneakers are adequately scuffed up to not look new, and he's confused about why Libby is sporting a new skirt and lip gloss. The book is set up to resemble a film documentary, with cameo inserts of characters done in contrasting fonts with clever ideas like labeling the illustrations as "Camerawork" and calling the author the "Director." Unlikely scenarios like having to have a date for the fall dance by the end of the first day of school seem out of place, and the tempo seems to drag, calling it curtains for suggesting this title to reluctant readers. While there are some amusing illustrations that will appeal to "Wimpy Kid" readers, the slow, evasive plot will keep this book from flying off library shelves. Strictly an additional purchase. -Cheryl Ashton, Amherst Public Library, OH—SLJ

"This documentary set out to show the real story of Trevor, along with his normal, everyday, average classmates.... Westside is their middle school. And these are their stories." With an introduction like that (and the subtitle), readers may expect more of a documentary-style novel than what Mellom (Ditched: A Love Story) actually delivers in her first middle-grade novel. Most of her story unfolds through good old third-person omniscient narration, interspersed with occasional "interviews" with seventh-grader Trevor Jones and his classmates. Fortunately, Mellom has a gift for school-days humor, and her novel is very entertaining. Trevor, a consummate worrier, and Libby, a consummate planner, have been best friends for years, but as they begin the school year, Libby, tired of covering for Trevor's (many) gaffes, believes it is time for them to make new friends. Gilpin's spot art (not all seen by PW) is a mix of notes, cartoons, and other "found materials" that add to the book's sense of fun as romantic entanglements and misunderstandings proliferate in the days leading up to the school dance. Ages 9 12.—PW

A documentary crew descends upon Westside Middle School to reveal what middle-school students' lives are really like. At the heart of the story is Trevor Jones, just starting middle school. He's a worrier and a "pre-thinker," and, despite his claim that he's not worried about seventh grade, he has it all planned. He's got brand-new clothes, and his yogurt stick is frozen just right to be the perfect temperature by lunchtime. Unfortunately, his best friend forever, Libby, shakes his cool at the bus stop when she informs him about the upcoming dance and how he must ask a girl by the end of the day. The whole novel revolves around the dance and the attendant social drama of middle-school life. Though readers never find out much about the making of the documentary itself, it's a clever contrivance. A third-person narration alternates with interviews with the major players. There's Trevor, Libby, eighth-grader Corey Long, Wilson the custodian, and seventh-grade gossip Cindy Applegate among the several main players. Illustrations add appeal to the story, including cartoonish drawings found in Trevor's notebook, a "Social Skills Training" pamphlet found in Counselor Plimp's office and drawings from Libby's Hola! Kitty Cat! sketchpad. All in all, a silly but appealing story for readers approaching the middle-school years. (Fiction. 9-12)—Kirkus

A shy, nerdy lad comes through in the clutch with a climactic act of "total epicness," though it's a long haul getting to the moment. Presented as a filmed reality show but actually a conventional third-person narrative intercut with private expostulations from major characters, the tale mostly takes 12-year-old Trevor through his first day of seventh grade-during which he not only has to learn how to navigate the hazards of middle school while being suddenly abandoned by his overcontrolling lifelong best friend, Libby, but is tasked with asking some new classmate out to the upcoming dance. The final third sweeps through the ensuing weeks to the dance. Interspersed with handwritten notes, doodles, and yearbook-style head shots, Trevor's string of funny, if predictable, mishaps culminates with a sabotaged dance that he selflessly salvages amid much opening of eyes and relationship repair. Readers who prefer novels in which plot takes a backseat to characters' internal ruminations, frets, chains of logic (or illogic), and insights (sometimes mistaken) about themselves and others will happily tune in. - John Peters—Booklist

Children's Literature - Justina Engebretson
There is elementary school; there is high school. Then there is middle school, the pivotal moment of it all. What has happened prior to this moment of an individual's academic social life and what will happen in the future is much less as defining as what will happen during these short sandwiched years. No wonder seventh grade student Trevor Jones is all in a panic, especially when Libby Gardner, his best friend since diapers and personal social director, decides it will be easier for them to improve their social lives apart. To make matters worse, Libby assigns Trevor the task of finding himself a date for the school dance by the end of his first day of middle school, and Trevor never misses a deadline. With dread and great trepidation, Trevor steps onto the bus only to meet with disaster, which seems to be a minor foreshadowing of the doom that awaits him. Is Trevor destined to leave middle school as the kid who always ends up on the floor or will a stroke of luck change his seemingly doomed social destiny? The story is written mainly from Trevor's point of view; however, the character interviews give readers unique perspectives into the plot. The pencil sketches throughout the pages further develop the characters and add subtle humor to the text. Slightly predictable but still humorous, this middle reader will most likely capture the interest of elementary children. Reviewer: Justina Engebretson
Kirkus Reviews
A documentary crew descends upon Westside Middle School to reveal what middle-school students' lives are really like. At the heart of the story is Trevor Jones, just starting middle school. He's a worrier and a "pre-thinker," and, despite his claim that he's not worried about seventh grade, he has it all planned. He's got brand-new clothes, and his yogurt stick is frozen just right to be the perfect temperature by lunchtime. Unfortunately, his best friend forever, Libby, shakes his cool at the bus stop when she informs him about the upcoming dance and how he must ask a girl by the end of the day. The whole novel revolves around the dance and the attendant social drama of middle-school life. Though readers never find out much about the making of the documentary itself, it's a clever contrivance. A third-person narration alternates with interviews with the major players. There's Trevor, Libby, eighth-grader Corey Long, Wilson the custodian, and seventh-grade gossip Cindy Applegate among the several main players. Illustrations add appeal to the story, including cartoonish drawings found in Trevor's notebook, a "Social Skills Training" pamphlet found in Counselor Plimp's office and drawings from Libby's Hola! Kitty Cat! sketchpad. All in all, a silly but appealing story for readers approaching the middle-school years. (Fiction. 9-12)
School Library Journal
Gr 4–7—Trevor Jones admits that he's obsessive and a little neurotic, but his best friend, Libby, has stuck by him and defended him throughout elementary school and he's depending on her to continue to do so. But while they wait for the bus on the first day of middle school, she explains to him that he's on his own now. Seventh grade is a whole new ball game with new rules and new friends and she can't have him tagging along. Trevor seems shell-shocked and is just hoping his sneakers are adequately scuffed up to not look new, and he's confused about why Libby is sporting a new skirt and lip gloss. The book is set up to resemble a film documentary, with cameo inserts of characters done in contrasting fonts with clever ideas like labeling the illustrations as "Camerawork" and calling the author the "Director." Unlikely scenarios like having to have a date for the fall dance by the end of the first day of school seem out of place, and the tempo seems to drag, calling it curtains for suggesting this title to reluctant readers. While there are some amusing illustrations that will appeal to "Wimpy Kid" readers, the slow, evasive plot will keep this book from flying off library shelves. Strictly an additional purchase.—Cheryl Ashton, Amherst Public Library, OH

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781423150633
Publisher:
Disney Press
Publication date:
06/19/2012
Series:
Classroom Series
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.00(d)
Lexile:
720L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author


Robin Mellom used to teach middle schoolers and now she writes about them. (Any fictional characters that resemble her previous real-life students is purely coincidental. Probably.) She is also the author of Ditched: A Love Story. She lives with her husband and son on the Central Coast of California. Learn more at www.robinmellom.com and follow her on Twitter (@robinmellom).

Through a freak incident involving a school bus, a Labrador retriever, and twenty-four rolls of toilet paper, Stephen Gilpin knew that someday he would be an artist. He applied himself diligently and many years later, he has found himself the illustrator of around thirty children's books. He lives in Hiawatha, Kansas with his genius wife, Angie and a whole bunch of kids. Visit his Web site at www.sgilpin.com.

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