Patterson, James and Tebbets, Chris. Just My Rotten Luck
June 22nd 2015 by Little, Brown and Company
Rafe is back at Hills Village Middle School after completing a summer program and meeting with the two nasty sisters who are principal of the building. He is allowed back on one condition-- that he is in a special ed class. His mother agrees, glad that Rafe will get extra help, but Rafe is sure that other students will make fun of him. He makes enough fun of himself, certainly, but learns to appreciate the four others in the group that meets with Mr. Fanucci. Rafe is also drawing and posting comics on a web site, and tries out for the football team hoping to keep the stereotypical bully, Miller, off his back. Rafe comes up with the idea to be a Secret Art Man who breaks into the building to post his rendition of famous pictures, and his art teacher tacitly challenges to up his game. He does, but taking pictures of people bullying others, digitally changing them so identities aren't known, and posting them on the comics website with the challenge to his schoolmates to "B NICE". This, of course, is picked up my the local news media, and Rafe is once again in hot water. Subplots involve him getting a pet dog, Junior, and becoming romantically interested in another girl (other than his crush), Marley.
Strengths: The students love these, and they always know when one comes out. Patterson is very involved in reading initiatives and gives a lot to schools.
Weaknesses: While the portrayal of the special ed class was one that was supportive and helpful, Rafe's comments about it were horrible. Thirty years ago, students might have made rude comments about special ed, but that hasn't been okay for YEARS. The bullying is also disturbing and weird. People beating each other up in the hallways? Just no. The portrayal of the principals was also not helpful. Mean spirited. That's the feeling I get from most of this book.
What I really think: Pop tarts for breakfast. Not going to ruin the kids' health, but not going to help it any, either.