Finding a date. Oh how I remember the horror of it, the sheer terror that haunted every thought I struggled with, every breath I took to the point where – usually to my relief – I did not find a date. In fact, I usually had not even raised the courage to ask.
That’s what Trevor Jones; a good kid faces on his very first day of middle school in Robin Mellom’s “The Classroom.” Not only does Trevor have to find a date, he carries an additional burden, a deadline. By the end of the day, the first day of school he must have a date to the first school dance of the year. It is surprising that Trevor doesn’t go home sick. I know I would have. I wouldn’t even have made it to lunch. I would have been in the nurse’s office before first period ended. Trevor is a seventh grader. In addition to finding a date he must learn the ins and outs, the tricks and treats, the path through the maze that weaves its way through the rules both written and unwritten of middle school life, both academic and social.
Trevor managed to survive elementary school thanks to the help of Libby, his neighbor and best friend, but Libby has announced that she will no longer be there for him, at least not to the extent that she was during middle school when she rescued him from a number of social faux pas.
A popular technique used in many contemporary TV shows is used to tell this story. A film documentary is being made and the various characters step outside the story to tell their side of whatever happens to be going on at the time. Also like a TV sitcom, the book includes a good-sized cast of well-rounded characters such as a gossipy girl and a smart aleck bully.
I loved the story. It was both funny and heartwarming. The only fault I found was that it seemed unrealistic that a school dance would be the focus of the first day of school. I’d rather the story had begun during the second or third week with Trevor still struggling to find his place in middle school society, rather than have a couple week’s worth of activity heaped upon him on his very first day. Still the story is fun and entertaining. I imagine most middle school kids as they read this will be saying things like, “That happened to me.”
I believe there’s a sequel. I’m looking forward to it.