My sixth book for the 48 Hour Book Challenge was Middle School: Get Me Out of Here, by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts, with illustrations by Laura Park. This is the sequel to Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life. I didn't think that Get Me Out Of Here was as good as the first book, but I still think that kids (particularly reluctant male readers, who are clearly the target audience) will like it.
Like the first book, Get Me Out Of Here is a heavily illustrated novel about an artistic middle schooler named Rafe Khatchadorian. The pictures, included as sketches by aspiring art student Rafe, tell part of the story. In this installment, Rafe's mother loses her job, and the family has to move 80 miles away to live with Rafe's grandmother in the city. Rafe is accepted to a public arts school, however, and things look pretty good. Until a couple of popular kids start to bully him, and a teacher's criticism sets Rafe up for a new personal challenge, Operation: Get a Life.
Trouble seems to find Rafe wherever he goes. He makes his first human friend, but said friend leads him into new scrapes. He discovers a potential relative of his long-lost father, but antagonizes the man unwittingly. And so on. The real theme of Get Me Out Of Here is Rafe's need to understand more about the father who abandoned the family when Rafe was four (a year after Rafe's twin died). This theme isn't fully compatible with the book's format, somehow. One doesn't really feel for Rafe in his quest.
Laura Park's illustrations are still solid, entertaining and kid-friendly, and often showing better things than the authors could ever tell. And there's still a wry humor to the text that works. Like this:
""Come on, honey. I know it's a big adjustment, but you've got to stay positive," Mom said.
"Okay," Georgia said. "I'm positive I'm never going to make any friends here."" (Page 19)
""Rafe, when you're done, I want you to put on the shirt I left out for you," Mom said. "And clean pants, please."
That stopped me with a mouthful of everything. Nothing good ever happens in clothes your mom picks out for you." (Page 33)
"I've heard that every once in a while, there are these things called sinkholes that open up in the earth out of nowhere and swallow people whole. I don't know how often it happens, but right about then I was thinking, Not nearly often enough." (Page 76)
All passages that will make kids nod and smile.
I think that Get Me Out Of Here is well-executed, for what it's trying to do. It's kid-friendly. It's just lacking in both substance. Kids who enjoyed the first book will certainly want to check it out. But Rafe didn't charm me the way he did in the first book.
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (@lbkids)
Publication Date: May 7, 2012
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
© 2012 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).