What would you do if you could time travel and redo your entire experience starting a new school? Dave gets the chance to do-over his awkward start at Muddle School, but will it be enough to win over his crush, Lisa?

Author and illustrator Whamond’s story starts off with middle school student, Dave, having to move to a whole new school where he doesn’t know anybody. To make matters worse, his mom makes him wear a powder-blue leisure suit because she’s convinced that all new students dress up for their first day of school. Dave isn’t so sure about this, but wears the suit anyway, which starts him off on a day of trouble with the school bullies before he even walks in the building. All kinds of things don’t go as well as he’d hoped, leaving Dave feeling like the universe is against him. 

Dave pairs up with another student, Chad and together, well mostly Chad, they invent a time travel machine. He can’t believe his luck! He finds himself at the beginning of his first day of school again in his regular clothes this time, no embarrassing old suit from his father. He exudes confidence when he realizes he can change how everything happened, and make a good impression on everyone, in particular, on Lisa. 

The artwork style is fun and appealing to young readers. It’s full of characters with expressive faces and dramatic words sprawled across panels. Sprinkled throughout are Dave’s notebook pages showing some of the often funny comics that he has drawn. The cover art is not as exciting as a lot of other graphic novels that are being published nowadays. It’s not likely to stand out on shelves. Furthermore, the entire work has been colored in with a simple blue, black and white color scheme, which again doesn’t make it as visually appealing as other full color graphic novels for this age group. 

Overall, Whamond has created a very relatable character that any middle schooler could empathize with as he goes from one embarrassing situation to the next. Starting a new school is hard and not knowing anyone can definitely be awkward, as Dave certainly demonstrates. This experience is captured realistically, but with a good sense of humor. It’s a quick read that does have a cover and pages that do lack some luster with the simple color scheme, but the story itself is educational and a sincere take on the author’s real life experience.

Muddle School
By Dave Whamond
Kids Can Press, 2021
ISBN: 9781525304866

Publisher Age Rating: 10-13

NFNT Age Recommendation: Tween (10-13)

  • Kendra

    Reviewer

    | She/Her

    Kendra Perkins has worked at libraries in Canada, the U.A.E., China and South Korea where she has been everything from Founding Head Librarian to volunteer. She was Ambassador of China for the International Librarians Network, and she was elected to be Coordinator for the Shanghai Librarians Network (SLN), which is a community of almost 100 library professionals from more than 20 schools. She has completed her ALA accredited Masters in Library and Information Studies program at the University of Alberta. She has traveled to over 90 countries, learned to speak basic Mandarin Chinese along the way and kept up with too many graphic novel series to keep count. She has led workshops, created webinars and done library consultations in fun places like Italy and Hong Kong. She has been a guest blogger for multiple technology and education related websites and is a published book reviewer for Urban Family magazine. Find out more at her website, which she should update more frequently: http://www.theinspiredlibrarian.com

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