Primary Genre(s): Children’s Fiction, Picture Book
Published: 23 Mar 2021 by Chronicle Books
Page count: 76 (print length)
My Format: eBook via NetGalley (ARC)
Do I Recommend: Maybe
Commission Link (U.S.): Buy The Middle Kid
My rating: ★★☆☆☆
When you’re the middle kid, you’re never the first nor the last to do anything. You’re not the tallest or the smallest; you’re babysitting one sibling but teased by the other. Stuck between a bossy older brother and a naive younger sister, Middle Kid feels left out of two worlds. But even if—and maybe especially because—it’s always overlooked, this kid’s own world is just as big and important as his siblings’.
I am the oldest sibling in my family and I only have one younger sister, so there was no middle kid when I was growing up. Because of that, I was interested in how this book would depict older, middle, and younger siblings. Here are my pros and cons for The Middle Kid:
- Written and illustrated by the author. The illustrations were colorful and supported the story.
- Some middle kids may recognize themselves in the story, however… (see cons)
- The middle kid hated being bullied by his older brother, yet in the book the middle kid bullies his younger sister… and he got mad when he was punished for it. Instead of depicting him angry about the punishment, perhaps the story could have shown him learning a lesson that bullying is always wrong and not just when he is the victim.
- The story felt a little disjointed, like it was missing some kind of connective tissue. All you get are a bunch of vignettes about why older and younger siblings are horrible and middle kid are always mistreated. But then at the end of the story the middle kid unexpectedly has his siblings obeying his orders so he decides that being the middle kid is now okay. Huh? As long as he is the boss it is okay to be the middle kid? That feels like a negative lesson to me.
- This book depends upon the stereotypes that older siblings are always mean and younger siblings are always annoying. I wish the middle kid issues could have been discussed without the extreme generalizations. While it may have been the author’s experience, I know plenty of families where these stereotypes aren’t true.
- There is also a lot of absolute language used in the story like “always last”, “never first”, “not tallest”, “not smartest” with regard to the middle kid. I can think of a lot of a lot of middle kids I know where those statements are not true at all.
I didn’t love his book as much as some of the other picture books I’ve read and reviewed lately. Something about it just didn’t sit quite right for me. It felt disjointed, it lacked any real story, and it was full of stereotypes.
I can’t believe I am not recommending a children’s book, but I don’t think I would recommend this one at all unless an adult is around to have a discussion on every page about what is wrong with the scenario depicted, what can be done to make it better, and to reinforce to young readers that not all older and younger sibling are bad!
I know I am in the minority regarding my reaction to this book, but what I have written are my honest thoughts and feelings.
Written for reading ages 6 to 9 (grade level 1 to 4).
Thank you NetGalley and Chronicle Books for providing an ebook, which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily.
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