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Stuck in the Middle: 17 Comics from an Unpleasant Age Paperback


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Juvenile (May 17, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670062219
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670062218
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 8.5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #920,027 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* How bad was it in junior high? Comics artists visualize the anguish in this honest, acutely perceptive compendium of cartoon black humor. Editor Schrag, who relived her high-school years in several books, including Potential (2000), adds herself to an impressive roundup of artists, including Aaron Reiner (Spiral-Bound, 2004), Lauren Weinstein (Girl Stories, 2005), and Daniel Clowes, whose comics were adapted into an Oscar-nominated movie, Ghost World . Occasionally repetitious, the comics nevertheless hit the mark in terms of emotional content, whether the subject is making friends, embarrassing parents, or suffering through a first date. Wildly disparate in style, the black, white, and gray-tone artwork ranges from Eric Enright's minimalist contribution, with figures that look like toddler toys, and Jace Smith's freewheeling, bug-eyed monster-kid comic to Joe Matt's stark, crisply drawn contribution. Kids going through adolescence will relate; so will those who have come out on the other side. Stephanie Zvirin
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Review

"How bad was it in junior high? Comic artists visualize the anguish in this honest, acutely perceptive compendium….Kids going through adolescence will relate."
—Booklist, starred review


More About the Author

Ariel Schrag grew up in Berkeley, California. She is the author of the novel Adam, and the graphic memoirs Awkward, Definition, Potential, and Likewise. She has also written for television series on HBO and Showtime. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Customer Reviews

The "lack of diversity" isn't its biggest problem, it's the vulgarity and sexual content that's being marketed to children.
RidingSafe
This book is more like a light porn (also uses small words and sentences) As a parent I make it a point to make sure I know what my kids are reading.
miranda stroud
Not only is it inappropriate, it's a worthless waste of time for anyone to read, much less elementary or middle school children.
Momof3dd

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Ayun Halliday on September 29, 2007
Format: Paperback
...but only in opposition and it sure felt like hell going through it.

I bought this book to leaven the whole experience of my daughter applying to public middle schools here in Brooklyn. (The process is a little different in NYC - lots of choices, lots of stress about where you'll be accepted, and where your friends will wind up.)

I didn't buy it for my daughter.

I bought it for me. Interesting that the recommended reader age here is 9 to 12. I'd say more like 25 to 48. You need a little distance on the experience to recognize the full scope and the universality of the humiliations and terror depicted herein.

(As to the reviewer who disparaged the lack of diversity, I would both agree, and contend that this is true of almost every anthology published in our country!. Rather than harshing out on a young editor who made it possible for a lot of little-known just-starting-outers to get published, let's hope for wider nets in the future, and a high level of quality from all fortunate enough to be represented. One way to cast those nets and catch those fish is to publish more anthologies such as this, thus inspiring more outcasts to become graphic memoirists! Viva La Revolution!)

At any rate, now I have this book, like Vinnie the Tampon King's Giant Roller Coaster Period Chart & Journal Sticker Book, on the shelf, ready to whip out when the girl needs a boost. But for now, it's mine, all mine. I lived through it. I've earned it.

Lay it on your favorite adult art freak and wait for the nods of recognition. Or maybe you know a former mean cheerleader who's making ammends as part of some 12-step program. This volume will remind her in no uncertain terms to whom those ammends should be made. Or subvert the system by donating it directly to a middle school library. Just sneak it on the shelves when the librarian isn't looking. Art saves lives.
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16 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Bart King on August 3, 2007
Format: Paperback
At the moment, I'm surprised to find that the two existing reader reviews for this book are quite unflattering. To be sure, one drawback of an anthology containing the work of this many comic artists is that the final result will probably be uneven. And so it is here. But I find it quite unfathomable that one critic faults the book for, essentially, being too "white." Gee, diversity is important, but do anthologies all need to be compiled by the United Nations in order to be worthwhile?

This volume's intent here is to show the dark and often funny side of the middle school. (Its subtitle is, after all, "Comics from an UNPLEASANT Age.") And on those terms, it succeeds, sometimes wincingly well. The highlights include the work of the brilliant Daniel Clowes (of Ghost World fame) and the simple, effective lines of Cole Johnson. Editor Ariel Schrag also contributes two pieces that made me squirm with her convincing depiction of the superficiality and overwhelming self-consciousness that makes the `tween years sometimes so horrible.

And she draws good, too.
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20 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Hanah on March 11, 2014
Format: Paperback
This should not be available in elementary or middle school settings. Totally inapproiate language/dialogue and innuendo. I can't believe there are schools that have this book in their library.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Mark Oestreicher on August 27, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
nice collection of short comics about my favorite group of people: middle schoolers. most of them show the painful side of early adolescence.
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22 of 36 people found the following review helpful By RidingSafe on March 10, 2014
Format: Paperback
I gave it one star only because I can't give it zero stars.
The "lack of diversity" isn't its biggest problem, it's the vulgarity and sexual content that's being marketed to children.
If anyone wants to see pictures of some of the inappropriate things in the comic book, take a look at this blog post. She has 4 pictures of actual pages with their vulgar or sexual content, and one showing the book after she'd tagged all the vulgar, sexual, or otherwise inappropriate content.
Her school had this showing as appropriate for 3rd graders! It might, in a stretch, be OK for mature high schoolers.
Make sure your school does not have this in the library.
[...]
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9 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Christina Lockstein on July 18, 2007
Format: Paperback
Stuck in the Middle edited by Ariel Schrag is a collection of seventeen comics about life in middle school. I've read good things about Schrag so I was looking forward to this trade paperback. But as with many collections with a variety of authors, this book was hit and miss, with lots of misses. Good writing should reveal a greater truth, and the sheer banality of the stories in this book revealed only that much of our experiences are the same and they are boring. There were a few stand out stories, and for the most part the artwork was terrific and very indicative of mood. The stories for the most part didn't show great pain or great joy, just small vignettes of life exposed for what they are: small, sad and occasionally moving. Everyone gets over middle school eventually, and perhaps the strongest essay in the book was a how-to guide to making it through those difficult years. The books exposes this age group's ability to be cruel and kind, often with no rationalization to either. It was an ok read, but I don't feel like I learned anything from reading it, nor would I recommend it to someone else.
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15 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Magpie Mama on March 10, 2014
Format: Paperback
This book is filled with foul, vulgar language. It is entirely inappropriate for children; there is no need for such disgusting language.
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