In Book 3 of the Diary of a 5th Grade Outlaw illustrated novel series, it's Halloween, and the merry misfits are in for more tricks than treats!
When Bonus Bucks start disappearing from teachers' desks, Nadia immediately blames Wilu, the new kid in class. Robin launches "Mission Make Wilu a Friend" to figure out if he's really the Bucks Bandit—but it's hard to befriend someone who's determined to go it alone! Will Robin win Wilu over and learn the truth about the disappearing bucks?
It was five years after Gina Loveless earned an MFA from California Institute of the Arts that she realized her mission as an author was to write books that helped all the weird kids of the world feel less alone. When she’s not writing or reading, Gina can be found in Eastern PA, boogying at concerts with her husband, tending to their awesome produce garden, or snuggling with her rescue dog Gerdie.
While I appreciate the grade school drama appeal of this series, the whole bonus bucks drama is wearing thin. The plot twists regarding the whole subject are a bit over the top and I miss the clever bits I saw in the first book. And those raps are getting to be cringe-worthy. Just not loving this series as much as I did at first.
If anyone needed telling that these kids were a modern American primary school equivalent of Robin Hood, it's writ enormously large right from the off here, when they all get told about the original and all wear appropriate costumes for Hallowe'en at school. It's a step further down the scale of subtlety, and this series has been getting close to touching bottom before now. Partly that is to do with the way our Robin thinks internally about all her friendships, and goings-on, and her reaction to the new kid in school here is rather overblown in that way. This leads to another heightened portrayal of middle school life, when the 'bonus bucks' – the prize tokens the teachers give out any time someone is less than a Ritalin-starved twonk – keep going missing. Is Robin losing her outlaw touch in not seeing the new boy as a prime suspect worth investigating, or is her maverick stance of making him one of the gang, even when he doesn't want to socialise, the right way to go? Ooh, problems, problems.
There's nothing inherently wrong with these books, and the way they are so damnably page-turning, even for reluctant readers, is always a plus. But I think this is where I and this series part, on reasonably good terms. Robin's diary-styled thinking about the whole situation, the copious friends that always kind of merge into one (except from the rapping two that you just want to throttle), and all the friendship-based machinations just feel a touch too forced for my tastes. There was almost something hectoring about how Robin discussed with herself whether her initial opinions on the new boy were prejudging much or not. And the whole bonus bucks thing, much as the 'king of the playground' aspect of the first sequel last time, are so far removed from what I know of going to, and working in, schools. So with no objections to the future books in this series, I doubt I'll be back for them. The weakness of the solution to this mystery reminds me of what I said previously about missing the cleverness of the original. They I am sure will remain interesting reads for the target audience, but flawed and brick-subtle with it.
In Book 3 of the Diary of a 5th Grade Outlaw illustrated novel series, it’s Halloween, and the merry misfits are in for more tricks than treats!
When Bonus Bucks start disappearing from teachers’ desks, Nadia immediately blames Wilu, the new kid in class. Robin launches “Mission Make Wilu a Friend” to figure out if he’s really the Bucks Bandit—but it’s hard to befriend someone who’s determined to go it alone! Will Robin win Wilu over and learn the truth about the disappearing bucks?
Out September 2020
I received this book in exchange for my honest review.
I’ve been reading and reviewing several Epic! Originals for Andrew McMeel Publishing and overall really enjoyed all the books they’ve so graciously provided for me to review and blog about. However, this is just one series I’ve struggled to get into. To begin with, I’ll list off the things I did enjoy.
Hardcover! Great for handling.
Concept: Finding books published more and more in the journal format has become second nature now, but at one time, publishing houses would have gasped loudly at such a thought. Their appeal is to reach that one age group that struggles with reading, or isn’t interested in it if given a choice between reading a book or playing video games. So very visually enticing.
Large print: The print in this book is very appealing making words clear and sentences easier to follow for those who struggle with reading. Also the line spacing allows a better visual guidance for wording and phrases and this style should also appeal to teachers and/tutors who use ruler guides or allows students to use their finger to guide their vision along the sentence. Excellent for special needs kids too.
Colorful illustrations: The illustrations are in a chalk-like format with large lines and flat one-dimensional characters depicted by bold colors and one perspective, that appears flat, and often crayon-like. I think the artwork is indicative of a large age range of children and could even be said to have been done by younger kids. Simple and useful to the story, but not distracting to the point of being over-bearing.
Presentation: Overall, the book is like those sold for journaling. The inside is in proper book formatting and very appealing. The illustrations do their job in complimenting the story and helping to propel it forward to the main character’s goal.
What I don’t like about the books in this series… you really should read the first one to understand who everyone is and more about the intent of the series as a whole. I can see many getting lost if they don’t begin with book one. The main character would benefit from your starting at the beginning so you can appreciate her development.
Now, frankly I can see this series widely loved by kids today, and in fact, my own neighbor’s kid absolutely swears by these books as being, “the best books to read.” They are a complete package, full of lovely enticements even for those who are reluctant to read or struggle to read.
Robin Loxley and her gang of fifth grade friends try hard to be kind and give each other the benefit or the doubt, largely at the behest of Robin. When classroom Bonus Bucks start to go missing at the same time that a new, anti-social kid comes to their class, rumors fly about whether he is responsible for taking them. I like that Robin makes it her business to befriend him, since her gut tells her he isn’t the culprit. She narrates the story as her journal, and the art is her drawing. Robin wrestles with trying to be kind when her own friends have differing opinions on the new kid.
This is book 3 in the series, and it’s easily appreciated without reading books 1 and 2. A back section draws parallels between the characters in the story with the tale of Robin Hood. The type size is much larger than type usually is for a middle grade novel, and could be useful for kids with vision difficulties.
What I didn't like: The drama seemed heavy handed to me, and there was little else going on in Robin’s life to deflect from it. The art’s production values are overly large, along with the type, and make it seem almost blurry.
I received this book from netgalley in exchange of an honest review. This was an OK book about Halloween, friendship, a new kid, stolen bucks, and fun illustrations. I could understand Wilu. I haven't moved around like he did but I could understand that making friends and then totally losing them just hurts like hell. He was a bit odd, but later we do find out more about him. I loved that our MC was dedicated to making him smile, and even wanted to become his friend. Then there are the stolen bucks which was an interesting plotline though I wasn't a fan how one of the girls just instantly accused the new kid and how things got really out of hand. The conclusion, I was just rolling my eyes. Well that is a dumb move teachers. Maybe next time try honesty? And the Halloween stuff was just a delight. This is the x book in the series but I never felt like I should have read the other books to understand. We get some explanation here and there.