Don’t Judge Me by Lisa Schroeder

Published by Scholastic Press (Released November 10)

Don't Judge Me by Lisa Schroeder

Summary:  When Hazel finds an abandoned pet tortoise, she discovers that the two of them are alike in some ways.  Both want to hide when they are scared, and Hazel finds herself feeling anxious about almost every aspect of middle school.  She’s shy and wants nothing more than to blend in, but her best friend Tori wants to perform in the talent show and make new friends.  When Hazel finds a notebook belonging to Tori’s older brother Ben, she’s horrified to discover that it contains pages for many of the girls at school with other boys’ comments about their appearance.  The notebook, combined with a dress code targeting girls and a new friend, Dion, who’s being bullied by other boys, finally forces Hazel to stick her neck out and speak up about the injustices and sexism she sees all around her.  Hazel is amazed to learn what power her voice has; while her school still has problems, she and her friends are able to bring about real change with their activism.  256 pages; grades 4-7.

Pros:  Another great addition to the growing list of 2020 books that address feminism, dress codes, and toxic masculinity.  Many readers will recognize themselves in Hazel and her friends and may be inspired to speak up about issues they see in their own schools and communities.

Cons:  While Hazel’s dad is pretty cool, it would have been nice to see some other men helping out the girls and women.  The principal seemed like a real dud.

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