Monday, February 10, 2020

MMGM- Middle School's a Drag

It's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday at Always in the Middle and #IMWAYR day at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. It's also Nonfiction Monday.

Howard, Greg. Middle School's a Drag, You Better Werk 
February 11th 2020 by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Mike Pruitt is inspired by his ailing grandfather to be an entrepreneur. He has even enlisted the help of his family; he has meetings with his parents to discuss operations, and hires his younger sister as an assistant. He has all manner of ideas for different businesses, and the students at his school seem to know that he is available for hire through his company, Anything, Inc. It's not strange when he approached by Julian, who has a drag act under the name of Coco Caliente, Mistress of Madness and Mayhem. Mike can certainly book gigs, and signs not only Julian but several other classmates as well, and gets them auditions for the school talent show, which has a prize of $100 for the best act. He learns a lot about drag performers (as did I; I had never heard of the dance move "death drop", which is certainly a very difficult move to do!) and also comes to terms with the fact that he is gay. Julian is, but since Mike acts nothing like Julian, he thinks he isn't "being gay" the correct way. This is complicated by the fact that he likes Julian's assistant, Connor. The road to the talent show doesn't go smoothly, but Mike manages to keep his business afloat, support Julian even though his father doesn't approve, and also deals with his grandfather's failing health.
Strengths: The relationships are what really make this book shine. Mike admires his grandfather, feels supported by his parents, and puts up with his sister even though she is really irritating. He has good friends, and he makes new ones once he meets Julian. His tentative romance with Connor is very sweet and spot on for what middle school students want to read! (YA romance is much more unpleasant and angsty.) It's interesting that Mike knows he's gay, but doubts himself, and questions that he isn't doing gay "right". That was kind of brilliant. The talent show is realistically portrayed; even the prize money is explained well. This was a fast paced book, and there are good details about a middle school student who wants to participate in drag performance.
Weaknesses: While it's very realistic that Julian's father doesn't approve, confronting his father about it when he does felt rather overly dramatic. There's a similar scene in a Charlie Joe Jackson book that also didn't feel like something an actual middle school student would do. Handy for the plot, but less likely to happen in real life.
What I really think: The readers in my school are not that interested in books about performing, and many of the books with gay male characters have that as a major plot point. There's the new Martin McLean, Middle School Queen as well as Federle's Better Nate Than Ever (2014). I don't really need three books on similar topics, but I am tempted to buy both because of the recent issues with drag queen story times in Ohio. I wish this had been more like Pancholy's The Best At It, which is a much easier sell to most students because it contains sports.

Ms. Yingling


  1. Thanks for your review. I will look for this one. It sounds good and deals with important issues.

  2. It's really hard when there's a lack of interest in books that discuss important, timely issues. I always appreciate reading your strengths and weaknesses sections -- very helpful in book selection!