Wednesday, January 08, 2020

Me and Banksy

Kyi, Tanya Lloyd. Me and Banksy
January 7th 2020 by Puffin Books
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Dominica goes to a fancy private Mitchell Academy with her friends Holden and Saanvi. They generally like school, but are increasingly alarmed by Principal Plante's insistence on having cameras everywhere and school IDs that "ping" parents when students arrive in the building. This concern grows when footage of a student having an embarrassing moment is posted on a school discussion forum, and not long after, footage of Dom turning her shirt right side out in the empty school library, thereby showing her bra, is also posted. Dom gets in trouble for the "flashing", but the principal doesn't call her home; Dom is pretty sure that the principal's nasty son, Josh, is the one behind hacking into the surveillance cameras, since he taunts her about the incident. Dom is embarrassed and devastated, but doesn't want to talk to her mother about it. Her mother has a very busy and successful catering business that keeps her out many nights, and she is also dating Frank, since Dom's father died when she was quite young. The apartment building doorman keeps close tabs on Dom, as does her grandmother, George, but she still could use some more sympathetic adults in her life. She is very interested in art, and George runs a local gallery and gives her lots of books. After reading a book about Banksy's installations addressing the issue of  privacy and surveillance, Dom decides to do a project on him for her ethics class. This is scuttled when the teacher (who also has footage posted of her) changes the project, but also because Dom starts thinking about doing a similar project to draw attention to the problems at her school. She finds that boys are getting points for sharing embarassing things when Holden infiltrates their group, and with the help of fellow students Max and Miranda, Dom mounts an impressively involved graffitti campaign to try to make a difference. Knowing she could get expelled for even the small pictures she puts up around the school, will Dom and her friends be able to pull out all the stops and change the culture of privacy at their school?
Strengths: This book had so many things I enjoyed! Dom's active interest in making art and learning the history of it is a rare thing to find in a middle grade book. The issues of privacy and surveillance is even rarer, and very, very timely. Because of increased security in my school, we have a LOT of new cameras that are so clear that the school resource officer can read what people are looking at on their phones in the hallway-- how long will it be before I am caught on tape at 6 a.m. in an empty building adjusting my slip in the hallway? Yikes! I loved how Dom took Banksy's art and adapted it to her own circumstances.  There were a lot of smaller plot points about everyday middle school that were nice to see-- Dom's relationship with her grandmother, her mother's dating, her jealousy over Holden and Saanvi's relationship, the school work, and dealing with social media bullying. I especially appreciated the note right at the end of the book that told students that while Dom's approach to solving her problem makes for a great story, if readers experience social media problems, they should immediately tell a trusted adult to get help.
Weaknesses: As a principal's kid, I'm not a fan of the trope of the evil principal who lets her own child get away with things. Even though my dad wasn't at my school, I couldn't get away with ANYTHING. Also, the graffiti was hard to take; while the school deserved a hard time about the surveillance, the custodians were the ones who had to clean up the walls! (Some of it was chocolate and not paint, but still probably hard to clean!)
What I really think: Even though this is a Canadian title, the hardcover IS available from Follett Titlewave, so I'm definitely purchasing. There were a lot of things I really loved about this one, including the black squirrel on the cover. And I love that the black squirrels at Kent State CAME FROM CANADA!

Ms. Yingling


  1. A middle-grade book about Banksy? That's Canadian? I must have this book.

  2. I didn't realize this is Canadian. I'll have to check it out.