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Middle School: the Worst Years of My Life by James Patterson and Chris Tebbits (mg)
labandbooks
proseandkahn

288 p. Little Brown Young Readers, June, 2011.

Rafe Katchadorian is not looking forward to the start of middle school. It doesn't help that he is nearly friendless. While sitting in a boring, first day of school assembly listening to the principal drone on and on about the rules manual, Rafe's only friend, Leo the Silent challenges him to break every rule in the manual. Together, they cook up a ratings system based on the danger and consequences each infraction might carry.

It certainly gets Rafe noticed, but not in a good way. Also, he's so busy planning the next caper, that he doesn't pay attention in class. He manages to sabotage his teachers' attempts to get his mom in for conferences and such and even manages to stall the inevitable showdown at report card time. Rafe is a non-tradtional learner, but that seems to be the least of his troubles. His mom is engaged to a lazy, abusive couch potato and works double shifts at the diner to make ends meet. So Rafe is able to pull off the subterfuge. With such a chaotic home life, it's no wonder why he can't concentrate.

This mostly humorous tale is fast-paced. Kids will just eat up Rafe's antics and some adults may not. I daresay that most teachers have known some Rafes in their careers.

I had already put the title in my book order for my library, it came highly recommended to me by two fifth grade classes. Apparently, their language arts teacher  read it aloud. They all said that it was "the best book ever!" So, when my order came in, I grabbed it to read before putting it on the shelf.