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Review: ‘Middle School Confidential 2: Real Friends vs the Other Kind’

Annie Fox’s first title in the popular “Middle School Confidential” series, Be Confident in Who You Are, addressed family and self-esteem issues with tweens. The author follows the success of that app with her title on friendships, a topic of interest and concern for this age group.

Title: Middle School Confidential 2
Subtitle: Real Friends vs the Other Kind
Annie Fox
Illustrated by:
Matt Kindt
Published by:
Free Spirit Publishing
Middle School Confidential
Developed by:
Electric Eggplant
iOS, requires iOS 4.0 or later
Version: 1.1.1
Price: $2.99

Gr 5-8-It’s a question that every young person has pondered–who are my real friends? This app, the second in the “Middle School Confidential” series, will help young adults answer that question as they navigate the murky waters of friendships and relationships with the opposite sex. Eight brief chapters in graphic novel format each address a different topic, such as self-confidence or peer acceptance, through a story about a group of 12-year-olds.

Realistic dialogue is enhanced by authentic background sounds and vivid watercolor illustrations. The dialogue is used to present perspectives on how different people respond to a situation, subtly walking readers through alternative viewpoints. Matt Kindt’s illustrations deftly capture the characters’ emotions and draw readers deeper into the story. In chapter 6, for example, the artist depicts a heart being crushed when one of the characters hears a girl he likes call him a “loser.”

A “Meet the Cast” feature, which can be accessed at any time, provides background information on the diverse group. Interactive quizzes allow readers to gauge how they would handle certain situations. Explanations of why each response is correct or incorrect will help readers develop effective decision-making skills.

Zoom capabilities allow viewers to get a closer look at panels and oftentimes activate sounds. An auto-save feature bookmarks pages. Take away the sound effects and interactive quizzes and this app is simply a digitalized version of Fox’s book (Free Spirit, 2009) by the same title. Even so, it offers an effective way to approach character development and interpersonal relationships with a difficult-to-engage population.–Nicole Knott, Watertown High School, Watertown, CT