Middle school can be a stressful period for many kids as they experience changes both physically and emotionally. Friendship is a particularly tricky subject during this time. Power struggles start to happen and cliques start to form, and some kids just feel out of place.
Aiming to help kids navigate these tough social situations is Middle School Confidential 2: Real Friends vs. the Other Kind, an interactive graphic novel written by Annie Fox and illustrated by Matt Kindt. It follows friends Jack, Jen, Chris, Abby, Mateo, and Michelle as they deal with issues such as teasing, peer pressure, self-confidence, conflicts in a group, and dating.
Know Your Friends
Real Friends vs. the Other Kind is delivered in eight chapters that span 38 full-color pages. Each chapter depicts a relationship issue that teens may face, as well as its possible solutions.
For example, Chapter Two depicts the gang quarreling after the boys take a joke too far and unintentionally hurt Michelle’s feelings. After much pondering, the boys decide to approach Michelle to apologize and openly discuss their problems.
Readers can read the novel in full-page mode, or double tap to zoom in for frame-by-frame reading. There is no audio narration or animations, but the book comes with ambient sound effects and music. An auto-save feature allows readers to continue where they left off in the app.
An info section is available any time by tapping on the button on the bottom right. Here, readers can jump to a chapter or learn more about the cast. They can also take an interactive quiz at the end of some chapters to gauge how they’d fare in a touch social situation.
Parents Need to Know
Real Friends vs. the Other Kind is the second book in the Middle School Confidential trilogy. The title focuses mostly on making and keeping friends, but there are also mentions of other teenage issues such as eating disorders and family problems. However, it doesn’t go into any inappropriate details, thus it suitable for kids ages 11-14.
If you like this book, you might also want to check out the first installment, Be Confident in Who You Are, which deals with self esteem and body image. The third installment, What’s Up With My Family?, deals with relationship issues within the family. While the series feature the same cast, each title can be enjoyed individually.
Things I Like
Real Friends vs. the Other Kind presents teens with authentic stories they can easily relate to. The scenarios are rolled out nicely, with realistic dialogs that offer different perspectives on a situation.
Quizzes and morals at the end of the story further engage teens to think about what it really means to be friends. These quizzes, which are not too different from the personality tests you’d find in a teen zine, present truly thought-provoking questions that can spark meaningful discussions.
The diverse cast is unique in their own individual ways, just like real teens. Their complex characters give them a three-dimensional quality that teens can connect with. All of these things are captured nicely in Kindt’s lovely watercolor illustrations.
Middle School Confidential 2: Real Friends vs. the Other Kind is a thought-provoking graphic novel that explores some of the stumbling blocks in friendship. It presents various scenarios that teens are familiar with, in an easy-to-read format. Interactive quizzes help teens prepare for tough social situations and will engage even the most reluctant readers. Highly recommended for ages 11-14.
App was provided for our honest review.