Wednesday, April 29, 2020


Gino, Alex. Rick
April 21st 2020 by Scholastic Press
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Rick is starting a new year in middle school as his sister goes off to college. He has a best friend, Jeff, but Rick is starting to get ever more annoyed at Jeff's behavior. When Jeff makes rude comment about how "hot" Melissa is, Rick starts to realize that he doesn't really think of anybody as "hot". Intrigued by the Rainbow Spectrum group at school, he goes to see what it is all about, not letting Jeff know he is attending. Melissa, who was the subject of the book George, and the rest of the students are very welcoming and supportive, and Rick likes the group. When they decide to put on a talent show to help raise money to buy LGBTQIAP+ books for the school library, Rick wants to help, but he doesn't want others to know that he's involved with the group. Rick is also spending Sundays with his Grandpa Ray, and the two watch a science fiction show and bond. They also decide to attend a con, and Grandpa Ray shares with Rick that he liked to attend cons with Rick's grandmother... and he often dressed up as a woman. Jeff's toxicity because unbearable, and Rick drops him as a friend. Luckily, he has made new friends in the Rainbow Spectrum group.
Strengths: This was a short, simple book that outlines Rick's growing uncertainty while addressing the classic middle school issue of losing friendships. The inclusion of a LGBTQIAP+ school group, as well as a talent show, moves the plot along. The relationship with the grandfather is a nice touch; I wish there were more middle grade books about children interacting with grandparents who are still fairly healthy. The best thing about Gino's books is that they make gender and sexuality topics understandable on an age appropriate level. Too many Young Adult books include instructional sex and a lot of underage drinking, which is just a bit too much for my students. When I have 6th graders bring back books because the word "hell" or "damn" is in them, I'm more circumspect in my purchases than I would be in a high school or public library.
Weaknesses: It seemed very odd that the Rainbow Spectrum advisor, Mr. Sydney, didn't know about they use of singular they for people who prefer to use that as their pronouns. It was good to point out this use, but it would have made more sense for a student to claim ignorance. Some reviews called this book didactic and agenda driven, and while I can see that, it's really about perfect for the level of understanding most of my students have about LGBTQIAP+ topics.
What I really think: As the book itself points out, Rick is on the young side to identify with being asexual. I think many middle school students are not interested in anything romantic at all. It's good that people who support Rick tell him that it's okay if he does identify as Ace, but also okay if his feelings change at some point. I will definitely purchase this, as there is a growing interest in LGBTQI+ (or QUILTBAG+) titles in my library.

Ms. Yingling

1 comment:

  1. Sounds intriguing. (I've not heard of QUILTBAG+; certainly an easier acronym to remember--is it in general use by the community it desscribes, I wonder?)