Pat Schmatz (Young Adult Fiction)
“One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish.” Might as well be, “One fish, two fish, Travis is a stupid fish.” At least that’s what they all say…well, what one person says, but he is a VERY influential person. Travis Roberts is the new kid in the eighth grade. The only thing keeping him in school was his dog, Rosco, and now that he’s gone, what’s the point? He’ll always be stupid. He’ll always be a bluefish. But then Travis meets Vida (her public calls her “Velveeta”) and Bradley Whistler (who is THE smartest kid EVER) and Mr. McQueen, his reading teacher. Up until this point, everything that Travis cared about was gone. Maybe now he has a reason to begin caring again…even if he is just a bluefish.
Pat Schmatz serves up an awkwardly accurate and often humorous portrayal of adolescence through three flawed and endearing misfits—all longing to fit in and wanting to be a part of something bigger than themselves. Our three protagonists are no longer a child and not quite an adult, and Bluefish shows us the mask each wears to cover up their insecurities and shortcomings. From the brainiac to the class clown to the strong, silent type, Schmatz successfully encapsulates the complicated world of teenagers and the tangled and convoluted roadmap that directs their everyday lives and dictates their emotions.
Bluefish is more than a story of friendship and middle school survival, it’s a story of how one person has the power to change the very course of our life: a kid who finds and hands back your stolen shoe; a girl who invites you to sit with her at lunch; or a teacher who volunteers his or her time to tutor you before school. Thank you, Ms. Schmatz, for reminding us of the importance of not giving up on our friends, and—more importantly—not giving up on ourselves. You have shown us that being a bluefish really isn’t so bad and can actually be a rather remarkable thing after all.
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