The Tornado by Jake Burt, 243 pages. Feiwell and Friends (Macmillan), 2019. $17.
BUYING ADVISORY: EL – OPTIONAL
AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE
Bell Kirby loves drawing schematics and flow charts. Ever since he became the target of the school bully, Bell has created schematics for staying out of his path. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work, and Parker, the principal’s son, gets off scot-free. When a new girl shows up in Bell’s class, diverting attention away from him, he must make a choice to passively let her be the new target or stand up for what’s right and continue to be harassed.
It’s amazing how much of middle school behavior is dictated by the desire to stay off a bully’s radar. Do you stand up for what’s right or do you stay quiet to save your own skin? This is the conflict Burt writes about. It’s mostly effective, but bogged down with an unrealistic portrayal of the school principal who behaves counter to the way they do in the real world. I appreciated the strong STEM theme with the Creator Club and its enthusiastic teacher sponsor, but it could have been more exciting. The ending doesn’t have the strong bully take-down I would have liked.
Reviewer: Valerie McEnroe, MLIS