Middle Grade Book Reviews: Timid by Jonathan Todd, Shiny Misfits by Maysoon Zayid, and Tales from Cabin 23: the Boo Hag Flex by Justina Ireland - Tuma's Books

Middle Grade Book Reviews: Timid by Jonathan Todd, Shiny Misfits by Maysoon Zayid, and Tales from Cabin 23: the Boo Hag Flex by Justina Ireland

This English teach is officially on Spring Break, so you know what that means! BINGE READING! On Sunday, April 21st, 2024, I designated the day a Middle Grade reading day, which was a ton of fun. I had three titles planned but managed to finish two, both of 'em graphic novels. I finished the third title by Tuesday, April 23rd, 2024. 

Enjoy my mini-reviews on each title below! You can purchase/pre-order all titles via my Bookshop page. Links will be included below.

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Timid by Jonathan Todd

Timid (published April 2nd) is about shy 7th grader Cecil, who moves with his family from Florida to Boston. As a budding cartoonist, he struggles to make friends and fit in. Everyone around him is telling him how he SHOULD be but it's not comfortable for him. Eventually he finds his own way to stand up for himself and makes real friends. I found myself cheering him on the whole way! 💪🏾

The story has representation of a religious family (Cecil says grace during lunch time; family goes to church), siblings relationship when one goes to college, and father/son relationship between a "traditionally masculine" father and his expectations for his son.

Overall, super sweet, loveable, & relatable characters and story. Plus, I think representation of timid, Black boys is an important one, particularly for middle schoolers. I wasn't a big fan of the art style but I think it fit the storyline as Cecil was a cartoonist. I would definitely recommend for all middle school classrooms. 👍🏾

Purchase Timid by Jonathan Todd

Shiny Misfits by Maysoon Zayid

Shiny Misfits (published April 16th) was a quirky fun read, starring Bay Ann, a Arab, Muslim, Disabled (cerebral palsy) middle schooler who is aiming for fame through going viral. She's quirky, unapologetically herself, and sick of folks using her disability for themselves or treating her with pity. She doesn't need that ish. And I loved that part of her attitude!

Her parents are divorced though they live next door to one another and she goes back and forth between them. Her friends are cute and funny as well. Bay Ann's obsession with going viral got a little annoying at some point and I wanted the character development I knew was coming to come a bit earlier (but I think this is a personal issue as an adult reader). But eventually she learns what truly matters, family and friendship. 🥰

Also, I thought the portrayal of a tense mother/daughter relationship was interesting and something I think middle school girls need more representation for navigating.

Oh, and did I mention that Bay Ann's pet cat Lucy talks to her in rhyme & poetry? That's the best part imo! 😁

Overall, there's lots of great rep and lessons in this book for middle schoolers. Highly recommend for the classroom as well! 👍🏾👍🏾


Purchase Shiny Misfits by Maysoon Zayid

Tales from Cabin 23: the Boo Hag Flex by Justina Ireland 

This was a really fun read! As someone who was scarred by Goosebumps as a kid, I really enjoyed this first book in a new series. It's really perfect for upper elementary fans of Goosebump series but with more diverse representation. 

In the Boo Hag Flex, Tasha has lost her mom and her father that she never met gains custody of her. She goes to live with him and his mother, her grandmother at a trailer park community where she tries to adjust in the midst of her grief.

Tasha's character is super relatable and likely. She's a book lover and avid reader, who has just lost her mom to COVID and is forced to live with her "deadbeat" dad and his mother. Yet she's thoughtful, caring, mature, and had a great head on her shoulders. She develops a great friendship with Ellie and her grandmother Mrs. Washington is a sweetheart.

John sucked but I think it offers great representation for other kids with absentee or distant fathers. You can still be okay with the other people in your life who care for you. I wondered if it was falling into stereotypes a little bit but it's also reality for many kids.

In terms of the horror level, perfect balance of creepy but not extremely scary scary. And the "villain" wasn't super easy to guess which was nice! I was faked just a little bit but then I guessed correct a lil bit before big reveal. Overall, highly recommended! This is a great start to what I know will be an amazing new series. 

Pre-Order Tales from Cabin 23: the Boo Hag Flex by Justina Ireland 

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