The Real Us
Author: Tommy Greenwald
Illustrator: J.P. Coovert
Published August 8th, 2017 by Roaring Brook Press
Summary: Laura Corbett and Damian White are loners, and not by choice. Kids make fun of smart, sarcastic Laura for her weight and artistic Damian for his tendency to sweat through his shirts. Calista Getz, however–well, everyone agrees that Calista is the prettiest girl in the whole school. Maybe even the whole state. Let’s just say that she sits at the popular lunch table. Laura and Damian don’t.
But when Calista wakes up just before the school dance with the BIGGEST pimple she has EVER seen right in the middle of her face, and her attempts to hide it backfire spectacularly, Laura and Damian are the only ones who don’t ignore her. In fact, they seem to see not only past her pimple, but past her popularity, too. Together, they’ll challenge the school’s status quo in this hilarious, heartfelt novel The Real Us, by Tommy Greenwald.
About the Author: Tommy Greenwald has enjoyed reading all his life, which is why he’s appalled that his kids Charlie, Joe and Jack, would prefer getting a dental check-up to checking out a book. After years of pleading, threatening, and bribing, Tommy finally decided the only way to get his kids to read was to write a book about how to get out of reading. The result was Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Not Reading. And they read it! (So they say.) The Executive Creative Director at SPOTCO, an entertainment advertising agency in New York City, Tommy lives in Connecticut with his wife, Cathy; his non-reading sons, Charlie, Joe and Jack; and his dogs, Moose and Coco.
Review: Middle school is a time of finding one’s identity. In The Real Us, Tommy Greenwald explores three different examples of kids in middle school and their search for who they really are. Damian is like many of our students who has something to hide from his peers so is quiet and hidden. Laura is friendly and known, but because of her weight is still excluded from most social activities. Then there is Callie. Who seems to have the perfect life, but even she learns through a bump in the road that perfection is not always what it seems. All three of these characters will resonate with readers either as a mirror or a window.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This book is going to be loved by middle school students. Add it to your classroom and school libraries, and it will be read and loved!
Discussion Questions: Callie’s life seemed perfect, but it wasn’t. How was it not as it seemed?; Which of the three characters do you relate to the most? Why?; Why did Callie stop being friends with Laura? What does this tell you about the two characters?
Damian: “I wish they had assigned seats at lunch like they do in class. It would make life a lot easier.”
Callie: “Here is a math equation for you: Sitting in class + A bandage on your nose = Forever.
Everyone gets pimples, Patrick had said.
Laura: “I start to walk away, since my work here id done. But Ellie has one last question for me.
‘Do you play goalie?’ she asks. ‘Because you kind of look like you could totally block the goal all by yourself.’
Ellie and Ella dissolve into hysterics. I look at Calista, who doesn’t seem amused. But she doesn’t seem mad, either. She doesn’t seem anything.
‘No, I don’t play goalie,’ I answer. ‘I play defense. And you better watch it before I defense your butt with my foot.’
That shuts them up. I walk away.”
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