On My Bookshelf: The Misfits by James Howe

November 13, 2017

The Misfits is the a sweet story of four friends who seem much wiser than their seventh grade years. Despite having four very different personalities, Skeezie, Addie, Joe, and Bobby support and care for each other because they understand what it is like to be different. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.
The basic plot from Amazon: Kids who get called the worst names oftentimes find each other. That's how it was with us. Skeezie Tookis and Addie Carle and Joe Bunch and me. We call ourselves the Gang of Five, but there are only four of us. We do it to keep people on their toes. Make 'em wonder. Or maybe we do it because we figure that there's one more kid out there who's going to need a gang to be a part of. A misfit, like us.

Skeezie, Addie, Joe, and Bobby -- they've been friends forever. They laugh together, have lunch together, and get together once a week at the Candy Kitchen to eat ice cream and talk about important issues. Life isn't always fair, but at least they have each other -- and all they really want to do is survive the seventh grade.

That turns out to be more of a challenge than any of them had anticipated. Starting with Addie's refusal to say the Pledge of Allegiance and her insistence on creating a new political party to run for student council, the Gang of Five is in for the ride of their lives. Along the way they will learn about politics and popularity, love and loss, and what it means to be a misfit. After years of getting by, they are given the chance to stand up and be seen -- not as the one-word jokes their classmates have tried to reduce them to, but as the full, complicated human beings they are just beginning to discover they truly are.
The Misfits is the a sweet story of four friends who seem much wiser than their seventh grade years. Despite having four very different personalities, Skeezie, Addie, Joe, and Bobby support and care for each other because they understand what it is like to be different. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.

Why I liked it: The Misfits is the a sweet story of four friends who seem much wiser than their seventh grade years. Despite having four very different personalities, Skeezie, Addie, Joe, and Bobby support and care for each other because they understand what it is like to be different. While the plot of the The Misfits isn't without conflict, it was refreshing to read a novel about middle school students whose troubles didn't revolve around mean girls, cyberbullying, etc.


Classroom application: The novel could be tied in to a unit on elections and political parties as it centers around student council elections at Paintbrush Falls Middle School. The novel also touches on racial issues and Addie's protest of the Pledge of Allegiance could be tied into current events connected to football players refusal to stand for the singing of the National Anthem.

The Misfits is the first of four books in a series focused on the four main characters, all of which would be great additions to a middle school classroom library.

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of The Misfits for yourself, you can find it on Amazon here.

Note: The Literary Maven is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

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