Friday, September 1, 2017

Spotlight on #OwnVoices: The First Rule of Punk

By Celia C. Pérez. Viking, 2017. ISBN 978-0-425-29040-8. Click to purchase.

The cover of The First Rule of Punk.
To María Luisa, or Malú, two years is forever. It’s the rest of middle school, and the amount of time that she and her professor mom will be living in Chicago thanks to a too-good-to-pass-up job opportunity at a Midwestern university. Two years seems like a lifetime spent away from Dad, Florida, and the record shop Dad owns and lives above. (“Spins & Needles wasn’t just a record store; it was my second home.”)

Malú identifies as punk (through style, skateboarding, music, zine-making, attitude, and more). She connects to her White, punk dad but struggles with pressure she feels from her mom (who Malú nicknames “SuperMexican”) to be “señorita-like” and more connected to her Mexican identity. 

Things in the Windy City don’t start off very well. Malú’s Blondie-inspired makeup conflicts with the dress code at Posada Middle School, and Selena Ramirez, a bully from class, calls her a “coconut” (brown on the outside, White on the inside). In time, new friends, Latina mentors, and musicians come into Malú’s life. She and a group of buddies start a band (the Co-Co’s), but she hides it from Mom, worried about what she’ll think of it. When the Co-Co’s are denied a space on the Fall Fiesta talent show program by school administrators, the bandmates take matters into their own hands and stand up for what they believe. In the process, Malú learns a few things about being punkand being herself.

An example of a zine portion of the story.

The First Rule of Punk is a middle grade novel that will appeal to fans of comics and other visual narrative. (Suggest it to readers who like Victoria Jamieson’s Roller Girl!) Pérez includes examples of the zines Malú creates and shares, which show depth to character by allowing her inner thoughts and elements of backstory to be communicated in a visually poetic fashion. The protagonist’s voice is endearing, engaging, and funny (if even a little bratty at times), and readers will root for Malú all of the way. 

If you’re a librarian or a teacher (or a teacher-librarian), consider using the book to inspire kids to make and distribute their own zines. Pérez created this handy guide so there are no excuses not to. (And pssst: if you want to listen to some tunes while you read or create, there’s a playlist too.)

Reviewed by Elisa Gall


1 comment:

Kathy Halsey said...

TY. Great post. I'll be sharing with my FB peeps.