ReviewsMiddle School Confidential books, using their stories to illustrate the problems discussed and giving examples of how to handle them. The book is full of tips on strengthening family relationships while working through the challenges every family faces. Throughout are comments from teens sharing their feelings on the topics, while ‘Need to Know?’ sidebars in each chapter give a few Web sites and books that teens can read for more information. Quizzes help readers think through their own situations and relate the information in the chapter to individual needs.
“This short, readable book will attract even reluctant readers with the format and give practical advice for all teens on improving family life. The author is an educator and an online advisor for a teen Web site. Although the information would be useful for older teens as well, the series title limits the appeal to middle schoolers. It would be a useful book in a school library or for counselors and their teen clients.”
—VOYA, April, 2010
“Just the books you need to tackle middle school—What’s Up with My Family?... tackles another problem in middle school—our families. Let’s admit it, every family has issues and there’s just something about families that can drive a middle schooler crazy. Will you ever be able to do things on your own, without your parents hovering? What is the secret to surviving family transitions like a move or a parent’s job loss?Jen, Jack, Michelle, Chris, Mateo and Abby are back and deal with issues that can come up in any family, such as sibling conflicts, disagreements with parents and battles over home responsibilities.
“What I really love about these books is how they blend graphic novel with nonfiction advice. Bottom line is that they’re cool. The books are full of full-color illustrations, quotes from real teens, fun quizzes, and tips and insider tools for staying strong through the rough spots. Young readers will be able to relate to the teens in the book and will feel as though they’re having a conversation with their friends. Entering middle school can be tough, which is why it’s great to have a series like this that middle graders can turn to.” More »
—National Children’s Books, Examiner.com
Lori Calabrese, June, 2011
“Gr 6-9—In a conversational text that includes page-length illustrated scenarios, bulleted tips, and sidebar-length sections of advice, Fox imparts solid information about family relationships. Chapters titled ‘I’m Not a Little Kid Anymore!’ ‘Fuel-ish Thinking,’ and ‘Moods and Attitudes,’ among others, tackle issues such as understanding protective parents, learning how to stop the kind of thinking that ‘fuels’ confrontation, adjusting to change, battling a bad mood, and connecting with family history. Throughout the book the author uses quotes from real teens that send a clear message that many young adults are dealing with these same problems. Readers will easily relate to the situations posed and perhaps take to heart some of Fox’s suggestions and tips. Several ‘Need to Know’ entries list resources—books and Web sites—and practical ideas such as using a yoga pose to de-stress are found throughout the volume. The layouts, fonts, and background colors vary from page to page, adding to the book’s appeal.” More »
—School Library Journal, Joanne K. Cecere, Monroe-Woodbury High School, Central Valley, NY, April, 2010
“...In her third book in the series, Middle School Confidential: What’s Up With My Family?, Annie Fox once again provides this vicarious experience for children, where they can find questions and advice from other kids from various backgrounds who also struggle with family problems. The book ... incorporates a magazine-like design and beautiful graphic novel-style illustrations by Matt Kindt, which are always a visual treat. New, reluctant and returning readers of this series will easily be attracted by this style, as it encourages the reader to scan, choose and interact with any page in any order. The quizzes, character conversations and kids’ quotes invite the reader to form part of a conversation and constantly explore ways to actively participate and work effectively in a family.
“What’s Up With My Family? simply and straightforwardly states some of the most annoying, problematic and emotionally difficult family situations, such as Mateo’s case, whose family will not stop asking questions and invading his privacy, to the child who is forced to only interact with other children from his family’s culture. As always with this series, the rose-colored lenses are tossed in favor of reality, which every child can appreciate. There is no lecture, nor does it speak down to the reader. The text is a safe place to ask, wonder, reflect and look for more information on family issues.
“Annie Fox delivers valuable, practical advice on family relationships with real life examples that tug at the heartstrings. I highly recommend this book to children, families and educators. Though its intended audience is middle school children, all families can find some comfort and friendly advice between the pages of this book.
“Amidst the questions, confusion, anger and fuel-ish thoughts in the family, the need for things to change is always at the forefront. For this to happen, there is one concept from the book that should be pervasive. As Annie Fox writes: ‘It has to start with you.’” More »
—Prisca Rodriguez, Once Upon a Book, April, 2010
“Isn’t [What’s Up with My Family?] a question we’ve all asked ourselves at one time or another? I know I did when I was younger—and I still do to some extent —so I was intrigued to read Annie Fox’s latest installment of the Middle School Confidential series. ‘What’s up with My Family?’ tackles eight issues that often confound teenagers with regard to how their parents and siblings behave. When I read the book, some of the issues clearly resounded with my 15-year old self, so much so that I wished I had had this book then. And while my teenage years are far behind me, I’m glad this book is around now. It might just be able to help some teens understand why their parents are ‘overprotective’ or ‘unfair’ or ‘mean’ and how to deal with ‘annoying’ siblings. I put these terms in quotes because now that I’m a parent, and I’ve some perspective, I understand the reasons for certain behaviors but I know that I didn’t understand my parents or brothers when I was teen.
“The book is written with many visual cues that will intrigue teens and young adults—the graphics, conversational style, and particularly, the real-life quotes from teens across the country—all serve to make the subject matter easier to understand and deal with.” More »
—The Chilrden’s Book Review, Luisa LaFleur
“This is a fabulous book for kids chock full of helpful and really instructive information. This book addresses one of the most important aspects of kid’s life in middle school—dealing with growing up and their family. If you remember, in the KidsHealth survey they found that the most important issue to kids was their family. Annie Fox’s new book answers so many questions for kids and talks about what matters most to them... She also has quizzes for kids to analyze how they really feel—a very useful tool!
“This is an essential book for kids in the middle school stage of growing up—not a kid and not a full teen either. I love this book and I can’t wait to talk to Annie about all that is in it, especially if you have a middle schooler or a child soon to be one, so you can make good choices.” More »
—Shannon Devereaux Sanford
Shannon’s Corner, WTBQ AM
“What’s Up with My Family? is an amazing addition to your home library... The folks at FreeSpirit Publishing knew what they were doing when they signed this woman. Annie is single-handedly saving our youth. Yes, that sounds dramatic...but she is doing it! All you have to do is pick up Book 3 in her Middle School Confidential Series!
“...Annie has a passion for middle school kids that parents wish EVERY adult who impacts their child’s life would have. Annie is the teacher, the counsellor, the mentor I pray my kids find. But if your child is thrashing and reaching for straws and no teacher/counsellor stands out to you the way you had hoped they would, the Middle School Confidential Series is a God send!
“...There were so many ‘a ha’ moments for me as a parent. The book is written FOR the kids but as I read it with my 12 year old, things like, ‘It’s natural for the people who raise you to have some trouble getting out of the habit of treating you the way they did when you were younger.’
“WOOPS! That is where I am RIGHT NOW! My 11 and 12 year old are trying to spread their wings a little and until I read that sentence, I was looking at their requests as trying to keep up with their friends.
“...I LOVE that I have Annie’s books on my books shelf for when that midnight conversation starts and I need some back up!” More »
—Michelle Kemper Brownlow, Artist, Author, Freelance Columnist, Mommy Blogger
“...the 3rd book of the [Middle School Confidential] series is hitting the shelves and we are happy to say that it is just as entertaining and informative as the first two! If you can say that books are addicting, then that is what we are going to call them! The latest book is called ‘What’s Up with My Family?’ and we are excited to be able to review it for you.
“Who hasn’t wondered at some point in their lives ‘What is up with my family?’ It sure has happened to us, and we are pretty darn sure it has happened to you too!
“So, ‘What’s Up with My Family?’ is written like the previous books in the series. A combination of comic book form, and questions and answers, advice, quotes, all sorts of interesting and entertaining ways to help you understand your family! We think sometimes understanding your family is a tough job.
“Annie Fox and this book make that job soooo much easier. The book lets you know that feeling this way is normal, but that there are a lot of things you can do, to make these issues in your life easier!
“So read the stories of Michelle, Chris, Abbey, Jack, Mateo and Jen. They will help you figure out why you feel your parents are totally unfair sometimes. (And when they are, how to deal with that!)
“You also will learn how to deal with that annoying brother or sister, (we especially learned from that one!) Lol! On a more serious side you will find ways to cope with divorce, death, financial problems. Many things that can mess with your head and make it spin!
“Even though you learn a ton from this book, you are always entertained by it. This was the first reason we got into the series to begin with. It’s cool that you can just pick up one of the books and read parts over again if you want. Almost like a reference book. We always read them straight through, and then end up picking them up again to read about a certain subject.
“We will give it to you straight—this book has something for everyone, and we pretty much guarantee you will love it! So Annie Fox you ROCK, and so does ‘What’s Up with My Family?’!
“RUN, don’t walk, to go buy it! You and your family will be glad you did!” More »
—Didjaknowshow.com, Cailin and Hannah Loesch
“Annie Fox has once again brought us into the minds, hearts and emotions of the middle school teen in her third book ‘What’s Up With My Family’. Her characters Jen, Jack, Abby, Mateo Michelle and Chris are back each with their own family relationship issues and conflicts. Honest dialogues and open communications are the foundation of this book. Real teen quotes add a unique dimension to understanding the impact family relationships have on our teens. This well done edition to the series is part illustrated novel, part self help and loaded with tips and dialogues to teach you and your child the skills to communicate. This book is a must for any middle school family” More »
—Marianne Russo, moderator of The Coffe Klatch on Twitter, February, 2010
“Once again, Annie Fox and her Middle School Confidential series created a book that connects so well with the contemporary pulse of tweens and teens on the complicated subject of family relationships—What’s Up with My Family?
“What’s Up with My Family? is presented in Ms. Fox’s trademark style of meshing both a fictional story line within comic book illustrations, by Matt Kindt. Then she cleverly intertwines her ongoing story with pearls of wisdom as presented by input from students. This interactive and engaging layout lets the reader learn and feel entertained at the same time. At no time does the content of the book fall in to the realm of being insensitive or patronizing to the reader.
“As a School Psychologist, I appreciated that What’s Up with My Family? was able to engage the reader by presenting “tough talks” on topics ranging from sibling rivalry, divorce, loss, blended families, trust issues between parent and child and so much more. Ms. Fox focuses the reader on the value of a family, no matter how it is constructed. Moreover, the guided questions, quick quizzes and “did you know” features were very much on target in getting difficult messages across and jump starting conversations within a family.
“I loved What’s Up with My Family? and hope that families and schools will find this book in to the hands of tweens and teens worldwide. Bravo to Annie Fox for her wonderful writing and Matt Kindt for his amazing and intuitive illustrations! I look forward to the next installment of Middle School Confidential!” More »
“...‘What’s Up with My Family?’ deals with the myriad of issues that tweens and teens face when trying to get along with family.
“...This book helps children identify why parents (or any adult guardian in their lives) may be overprotective... It isn’t about blaming parents or the kids for the situation. It’s about problem solving.
“Transitions are difficult for many kids, especially with special needs kids, and this book provides many strategies for kids to deal and cope with changes. When parents divorce or separate, those times are tough on kids. This book offers superb advice for teens that may not be so accepting of new parental figures in their lives.
“Unfairness is probably one of the biggest things parents hear from their kids. ‘It’s so unfair!’ is shouted across the nation in many a home. That issue is also covered in this book in much the same way as the other issues are: with strategies and references...
“Teens also seem to be walking moods and attitudes and they are well aware of it, too... This book helps address the triggers and strategies to get out of that funk teens often find themselves in.
“...The final chapter deals with siblings and the difficulties that are born when teens are trying to get along with their brothers and sisters, either younger or older. It seems that no matter the generations, the trials and tribulations among siblings persist: younger sibling wants to tag along with teen, older sibling gets blamed all the time, and so on. This book does a wonderful job of helping teens deal with this issue as well.
“...What makes this book so unique is that not just girls will want to read it! Boys will dig it, too. A call was made to tweens and teens to email me their impressions of this series of books and of the website (www.theinsite.org). There was only praise. Here’s some of the responses...” More »
Special Needs, Examiner, mom of two Autistic boys
“Annie Fox’s Middle School Confidential: What’s Up with My Family? is comfort food for the mind — a middle-schooler’s highly social, overloaded, hormone-charged, technology-tethered mind. I know. I’m the mother of a wonderful 7th-grader. Thank you, Annie. He and all middle-schoolers deserve your solid, respectful, caring advice!”
—Anne Collier, Founder & CEO,
Net Family News, Inc.
Author, MySpace Unraveled: A Parent’s Guide to Teen Social Networking
“Thank goodness for the Middle School Confidential series! Author Annie Fox, an award-winning author and educator, has created a set of books that guides tween girls (ages 11-14) through the perils and triumphs of the middle school experience. Each book chronicles a group of 7th graders as they try to overcome challenging obstacles and navigate the world of teen drama... A must-have for tween girls.” More »
—Elizabeth Donovan, M. A., ParentingPink.com
“In her latest book, Annie Fox tackles the universal problem of conflict between tweens, teens, and parents. Families that use this book just might miss out on a lot of the relationship challenges that seem like a rite of passage.”
—Tina Nocera, Founder, Parental Wisdom
“What’s Up with My Family? tackles real-life challenges, from daily drama with parents and siblings to life-changing issues like divorce or the loss of a parent. The book blends the best of ready-to-use strategies with stories from the Middle School Confidential cast of characters. Another brilliant addition to the series!”