Confessions of a Class Clown

Random. Mar. 2021. 288p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780593118702.
Gr 4-8–An excellent take on the challenges of navigating social media for adolescents. Costner explores a horrible situation (cyberbullying) through four very different perspectives: Jack Reynolds, the class clown; Tasha, the new kid; Mario, aka Mario-Kart; and Brielle, Ms. Goody Two-Shoes. Jack has been entertaining his classmates since first grade, when he realized it was more comfortable to be laughed at for being silly than for messing up. Tasha has just moved to town and nobody really knows her, including that her brother died and her parents split. Nobody has asked why she shaves her head or even about the colorful hats she wears, which she crochets herself. Mario is a typical tween whose parents are not very cool—his mom won’t even let him have a cell phone until he gets his driver’s license. Brielle is as perfect as she appears, but she is a complex person who genuinely cares about others. Costner has found a way to highlight the innocence of tweens while never underestimating the unique pressures that children face along with puberty, acne, and popularity. She tackles complex, deeply relevant issues, such as feelings of insecurity and arrogance and the difference between how we present ourselves in a media-centric world and the people we are in private.
VERDICT Costner offers some thoughtful ways of encouraging readers to reflect on what kind of a person they want to be, and what they want to be known for. An absolute must-purchase for all middle school libraries.

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