About the Book: Seventh-grader Sierra Shepard has always been the perfect student, so when she sees that she accidentally brought her mother’s lunch bag to school, including a paring knife, she immediately turns in the knife at the school office. Much to her surprise, her beloved principal places her in in-school suspension and sets a hearing for her expulsion, citing the school’s ironclad no weapons policy. While there, Sierra spends time with Luke, a boy who’s known as a troublemaker, and discovers that he’s not the person she assumed he would be–and that the lines between good and bad aren’t as clear as she once thought.
My Two Cents: Claudia Mills is a master of chapter book school stories, and this middle grade novel was just as good. This book is filled with relatable, real characters, especially Sierra herself. Middle grade readers will really root for not only her triumph, but her growth as well. Such an important look at rules and justice, but also tolerance and compassion. (Parental warning: There’s a little mild language here, but it’s really relevant to the story and to the character development.)
Grade Level: 5-8
- Sierra misses out on dissecting an earthworm with her science class. You can dissect a virtual worm (still gross, but not as gross) right here!
- Sierra has to study for a French quiz. You can learn to say the alphabet in French with this (cute? slightly terrifying?) frog!
- Learn more about Mayan culture (like Sierra does) by checking out this site by the authors of the Jaguar Stones series.
- Sierra is interviewed by lots of reporters for both TV and newspapers. If you’re interested in journalism, check out this great list of journalism resources for students.
- One of the characters in this story wants to go to Kenya. Find out more about this cool African country here.
More to Read:
- Another story of a minor rule infraction that gets blown way out of proportion: Nothing but the Truth by Avi
- Another classic school story of a student who comes up against authority over something seemingly insignificant: Frindle by Andrew Clements
- All of Claudia Mills’ awesome chapter books, including How Oliver Olson Changed the World, Being Teddy Roosevelt, and Mason Dixon: Pet Disasters