Muddle School

Kids Can. Sept. 2021. 144p. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9781525304866.
Gr 4-7–New kid Dave finds himself the target of bullies, rouses the ire of his teachers, and is embarrassed when his crush on Lisa becomes public knowledge. But what if Dave and his friend Chad could build a time machine and start over again? Drawing from his own experience, Whamond explores adolescent angst and the turmoil of middle school. The two-tone, blue and white illustrations are reminiscent of comic strips. The book is a quick read, with easy-to-follow text, dominated by internal monologues from Dave. But while readers may initially be drawn in by the premise of time travel, they may be disappointed in the execution—time travel isn’t introduced until late in the narrative and wraps up quickly. Dave and his family are white. The illustration style doesn’t stand out, and the story will feel familiar to many readers—another middle school graphic novel based on the author’s life, about a less-than-popular, comic-drawing kid finding his voice.
VERDICT Whamond doesn’t tread any new ground, but libraries looking for more non-series graphic novels featuring male protagonists may be interested in adding this to an existing collection alongside more substantial titles like Jerry Craft’s New Kid and Kwame Alexander’s The Crossover.

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