2.24.20 It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? THE BENEFITS OF BEING AN OCTOPUS

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

{Celebrating the books we’ve read in the past week


the titles we are currently reading.}


Description from IndieBound:

NPR Best Book of 2018, Bank Street List for Best Children’s Books of 2019, Named to the Vermont Dorothy Canfield Fisher List, Maine’s Student Book Award List, Louisiana Young Reader’s Choice Award List, Rhode Island Middle School Book Award 2020 List, 2020 Oklahoma Sequoyah Book Award Nominee, 2021 South Caroline Junior Book Award Nominee, 2020-2021 Truman Award (Missouri) Nominee.

Some people can do their homework. Some people get to have crushes on boys. Some people have other things they’ve got to do.

Seventh-grader Zoey has her hands full as she takes care of her much younger siblings after school every day while her mom works her shift at the pizza parlor. Not that her mom seems to appreciate it. At least there’s Lenny, her mom’s boyfriend—they all get to live in his nice, clean trailer.

At school, Zoey tries to stay under the radar. Her only friend Fuchsia has her own issues, and since they’re in an entirely different world than the rich kids, it’s best if no one notices them.

Zoey thinks how much easier everything would be if she were an octopus: eight arms to do eight things at once. Incredible camouflage ability and steady, unblinking vision. Powerful protective defenses.

Unfortunately, she’s not totally invisible, and one of her teachers forces her to join the debate club. Even though Zoey resists participating, debate ultimately leads her to see things in a new way: her mom’s relationship with Lenny, Fuchsia’s situation, and her own place in this town of people who think they’re better than her. Can Zoey find the courage to speak up, even if it means risking the most stable home she’s ever had?

This moving debut novel explores the cultural divides around class and the gun debate through the eyes of one girl, living on the edges of society, trying to find her way forward.


Not long ago I shared with you that I read Free Lunch by Rex Ogle.[BIG NEWS! That book one the 2020 Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults Award on the same day that New Kid won the Newbery.]

Braden’s TBOBAO feels like a partner book to Free Lunch, but with a slightly older female MC, Zoey. Zoey is living in poverty, unlike most of the kids in her school. Zoey and her mom—and her two younger siblings, who she is often in charge of caring for—are living with Lenny, a totally creepy dude. He’s sometimes nice, but more often than not he’s rude, inconsiderate, and controlling. These are different ways of being abusive. Zoey’s mom feels like she has no other options, though, so she puts up with it.

Zoey has way too much responsibility for a seventh grader. She longs to have a normal—a typical—life.

As with Free Lunch, this had me thinking about YOU, my students. I don’t know what your lives are like when you leave school. I worry about you and the things you may be dealing with. I’m troubled that at the same time I might be pushing/challenging/gettingonyourcase about your reading and writing, you may be struggling with tough situations outside of school.

So again, I encourage you: Find an adult you trust. Speak to him. Share with her. Get help.

Braden has turned this book into a movement. You can read more about it on her site. Here is a screen shot so you can get a glimpse:

 If you want to hear Braden read the first chapter, you can watch here:



Period 2&3 read 12 books this past week.

Period 5&6 read 16 books this past week.

Period 8&9 read 6 books this past week.

















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