What It Is About: Max has been home-schooled and has finally talked his parents into letting him attend public school for his eighth grade year in middle-school. He knows it is going to be difficult but he is up for the challenge. Max soon realizes life in middle-school is tougher than he thought. It doesn't help that he becomes the target of the school bully named Doug or "Thug" as the kids call him. Thug's favorite pastime is to put Max into his locker and shut it. Max can't believe that it happens twice in one day. The first time he is rescued by Erin who Max hopes will become his first real friend. But soon Max is back in his locker and everyone has left the school building for a three-day weekend. He runs out of options for rescue and ends up saving himself as he finds his way out of the locker via the "back" of it. Max thinks his luck has finally changed as he encounters freedom, but soon realizes he isn't free yet and has many obstacles in front of him to truly find "freedom" from the school.
What I Thought Of It: I thought this story was pure fun. I'm so glad that I listened to the audio version because it was complete entertainment. Realizing I missed the "illustrations" of this hybrid novel, I still completely enjoyed it. The voice of Max was fresh and lively. I literally laughed out loud in my car several times during the story. The plot had everything: action, adventure, friendship, bullies, robbers, and lots of humor. As I listened, I kept thinking how much my fourth graders were going to enjoy the first edition in this new series. The cliffhanger left me wanting more and I can't wait for book number two to be released.
Who Should Read It: There are so many of my past students that I know would enjoy this book. It is perfect for readers in grades three, four, and five. I'm sure some middle-school readers would also enjoy it just as much. It needs to be in the hands of the reader because of the illustrations, but the audio is great. If you have a reader that needs support, you could put the book in their hands and let them listen as they follow along. Happy Reading!
Rating: 5 STARS out of 5 Stars