The Truth about Truman School – Dori Hillestad Butler
Publisher: Albert Whitman and Company
Age Level: 10+
Reader’s Annotation: Zebby is tired of not being able to tell the “real” truth at her middle school newspaper. So, she and her friend Amr start a website where anyone can post, and tell the real truth as they see it.
Summary: Zebby is so tired of her middle school newspaper sponsor: they can’t write about anything controversial, or even interesting. Everything has to be rah rah and go football team. Zebby comes up with starting a website, the truth about Truman, where all the middle schoolers can go, and interact. It will be just like a real newspaper with articles and editorials, and best of all, anyone can post their opinion. A great idea turns bad when someone takes it upon themselves to use the site as their personal bullying ground for a fellow student.
Evaluation: This is an exceptionally strong book, that would be perfect to use in a teaching setting. The story is told in alternating perspectives, and the reader gains insight into how each character responds to the situation. While the author deals with a topic that could become didactic quickly, she manages to keep her characters true to life, and their conversations realistic. Perfect for a parent wanting to broach this topic, or a school wanting a “school wide read,” this book can’t be read without making an impact.
Booktalk Ideas: Cyber-bullying, cyber predators, racism
Challenges: All of the above.
Selection: I read about this one in a review a while back. I thought it was a really interesting topic. I was really impressed that the author took the perspective of multiple characters. I’m not sure it would have worked as well in another point of view.