Eighth Grade Superzero by Olugbemisola Rhuday Perkovich

author’s website includes a video trailer

Summary:  Main character is at an alternative/progressive learning school in NY but still suffers from typical middle school problems. Reggie’s called “Pukey” by most classmates since an unfortunate incident on the first day of school. He’s got an ex-friend who seems intent on making his life as miserable as possible. Reggie writes his own Night Man graphic novels illustrated by his friend Joe C. The girl of his dreams, Mialonie, doesn’t know he’s alive. Reggie’s in a hate-hate relationship with his sister, Monica, and their father has recently lost his job. There’s a lot of realistic questioning that goes on by the kids in his church youth group. When his YG sponsor gets them involved in documenting the stories of some of the residents of the local homeless shelter, Reggie gets emotionally invested in the project. He’s got two really good friends who are as shocked as we are when Reggie makes a surprise announcement that he’s running for class president.

Personal Reaction: Another one that was heavy on the religion, but it just works out. Maybe I’m a closet Christian? “All I want is some positivitiy for Heaven’s sake.” See??? I actually liked this more than Lost Songs by Cooney though it wasn’t as complex with Cooney’s multiple character perspective. I want to nominate this one for SSYRA too. I loved it. Maybe it’s another one of those books where the kids have more high school personalities than middle school, but I was really touched by it and I think the volunteerism displayed here is achievable – especially the thought that if you have community service as a core value of your school motto, then you should get school credit for it.  One of my favorite quotes is, “I need a few more points in my life GPA.”

Curriculum or discussion topics: positive actions (character counts), school elections, volunteerism efforts, homeless students, bullying

Connections to other books: graphic novels (both DC and Marvel – Spawn, Lobo, Luke Cage, Black Thunder, Agent 355) ; a Bible or teen & religion titles;  self-help books like Advance Your Swagger: How to Use Manners, Confidence, and Style to Get Ahead by Bentley, A Raisin in the Sun by Hansberry, Quiet Storm: Voices of Young Black Poets  and other black poets & collections; books on how to write & illustrate your own graphic novels or examples of graphic novels like Super Diaper Baby by Pilkey or especially those with black characters like Icon or Static Shock (both by McDuffie) or Firestorm by Moore.

Items to display with book: Dora the Explorer sneakers, Bob Marley album, brochure/info about local homeless shelter, vote posters for school election, fake vomit. (Would it be wrong to include a Very Special Binder?)

Food items connected to story: (Jamaican foods as well as cafeteria foods) breadfruit, pizza w/anchovies, garlic & onion potato chips, tuna tacos, Juiced! (any bottles of fruit juice with weird facts under the cap – like HonestTea or Snapple?), mini-candy bars, organic apple broccoli muffins, oxtail and stew peas, callaloo, etc.

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