BenBee and the Teacher Griefer by K.A. Holt is out TODAY! Thanks to @kidlitexchange, @chroniclekidsbooks, and @kari_anne_holt for an ARC of this book.
I love K.A. Holt's verse novels, but this one is a whole new ball game! Four students, Ben B, Ben Y, Jordan J, and Javier, are in summer school because they failed their state assessment, and Ms. J is the teacher who's tasked with bringing them up to speed. These four students don't know it at first, but they have a lot in common. They hate to read. They have never finished reading a book on their own. And, most importantly, they all love the game Sandbox. After making an agreement with Ms. J, the students are allowed to read a Sandbox-themed Choose Your Own Adventure-type book, and even earn time to play Sandbox at school if they meet their time quota for reading aloud. The four students start to become friends as they open up about their struggles in the Sandbox game, along with in their real lives.
This is billed as a verse novel, but I'm excited at how many students it will appeal to because one character's chapter is told in drawings. I've known many students like this - hate reading, hate writing, but have so much to express if you let them draw. I think most middle grade readers will be able to see themselves in at least one of these four characters, while feeling empathy for them all. The characters and their struggles are real, relatable, and most of all - incredibly interesting to read about! This is definitely one to get for your home, classroom, school library, or middle grade section of the public library - it's going to be a hit!