The next title in the Middle School Confidential series is finally available for the iPad. This remarkable series is a must read for tweens & teens and a 'must download' for parents, educators and other concerned adults who want the young people in their lives to manage the typical struggles of adolescence just a little bit better. This series is really unique, offering something rare in the App Store; it's polished and well-crafted to the adult eye, but more importantly, teens will relate and enjoy the graphic novel format.
Many of my fans may not realize I am new to the world of children's literature, but if I am an expert in anything, it is actually teens. I spent the past two decades working with, researching and befriending many young people and can tell simply by reading this series that it is 'spot on' when it comes to capturing the interests of young people. The messages in these books & apps are exactly what most of us would like adolescents to understand about this time in their life, but put in a much more believable way than most of us could muster when trying to convince teens that 'real friends are people who care about you and treat you well.'
These titles aren't narrated, but even younger kids will enjoy having the stories read to them. I think many elementary age children, especially 4-6th graders, will relate to the topics in this edition, like how to make friends, end friendships, tell if someone is a 'real' friend, and even how to help a friend you are worried about. The fictional teen characters in these novels are complex and multi-dimensional, dealing with the kinds of dilemmas that most teens will find all too familiar. Parents & educators can even learn (or be reminded) of what life is like for young people by reading & sharing this book with a young person in their life.
The print versions were published recently, 2008-2010. These are all fabulous books that I wouldn't have hesitated to share with the middle-schoolers I counseled for over a decade. The series is just that exceptional. It's fun, hip and something youth will relate to. It's also packed with great stories that will guide them to feel better about themselves, think more deeply about problems and understand how to be a friend not only to others but to themselves.
In digital form, these books are very well made, nicely augmented with music and developmentally appropriate, right down to the format choice of graphic novel. You can tilt the device for either landscape or portrait and with a simple double tap the view changes & enlarges to read frame-by-frame. This is a very cool feature and includes nice sound effects that are more like a sound track, nicely crafted to match the emotion or activity in each scene. There is an additional page describing each of the teens in detail and now the titles also have interactive quizzes about the content. If a 5-Star app could get better, this series just did with this additional content, especially since these interactive elements help young people integrate the lessons they are learning into their real lives.
Overall, this is a well-developed ebook based on top-notch content that is not only educational but also a fun read. It has great messages about all the issues that make middle school one of the hardest times in life. If you work with youth or have a child in 5-8th grade in particular, share your iPad and this book with them - you'll both feel better after reading it. My highest recommendation!
[Note to educators, librarians & school social work/counseling staff: A wonderful FREE teacher's guide is also available to accompany this series.]
All reviews are of the app, not the platform/device. Based originally on iPad versions. Minor technical details may vary.
Annie Fox/Matt Kindt
12 - 20 Minutes
Based on non-digital book: Yes
Allows Own Narration:
Uses Motion: No
Age: 8 - 15
See Annie Fox's website for even more resources, advice column for teens, a free book on 'dating & relating' and much more!
This graphic novel follows the lives of six teenagers with 8 separate stories. The chapters cover issues that impact kids from elementary to high school. The characters, Chris, Michele, Mateo, Jen, Abby and Jack, are all trying to fit in with their peers, learn to like themselves and deal with sticky interpersonal issues. The chapters cover the following topics:
Chapter 1: Real Friends
Chapter 2: Friendship Dilemmas
Chapter 3: Should I or Shouldn't I?
Chapter 4: Worried About a Friend?
Chapter 5: So-Called Friends
Chapter 6: Let's go Out
Chapter 7: Things Aren't Working Out
Chapter 8: Making New Friends