CM . . .
. Volume XXII Number 26. . . .March 11, 2016
Leggings Revolt. (Orca Currents).
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2016.
136 pp., pbk., pdf & epub., $9.95 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-4598-1189-8 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4598-1190-4 (pdf), ISBN 978-1-4598-1191-1 (epub).
Grades 6-8 / Ages 11-13.
Review by Penny McGill.
Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.
The first thing I notice when we walk into Lajoie High School is the smell. Itís a mix of citrus and vanilla, with a hint of Ė what is that smell? Fresh laundry. Itís definitely fresh laundry. If a guy could get drunk off smells, Iíd be out cold on the floor. Rory punches my arm. ďI think weíre gonna like it here. A lot.Ē At first I think Rory has noticed the smell too. But then I realize he has noticed a tall girl with wavy blond hair.
Monique Polak engages the reader instantly with the first sentences (above) of her book about Eric, a seventh grade boy, who transfers to a new school with his friends, Rory and Phil. Having attended an all-boys school from kindergarten through to grade six, these three have much to cope with on their first day but itís the first paragraph Ė and Ericís first impressions Ė that sets the tone for one of his biggest challenges at his new school.
With the story set in a high school in Montreal, you might think that Eric and his friends are going to focus on trying to meet girls and go for the easy laughs of a television comedy, and they do, but this is balanced with the serious issues brought to light by Ericís new friendships. There is humour in this novel, and some scenes focus on groups with Eric in classrooms and the cafeteria, but many conversations involve serious discussion of topics like whether clothing is a form of self-expression and should dress code restrictions be different for boys than they are for girls.
Eric and his friends are just getting settled into their routine at the school when he is encouraged by some of the girls in his class to participate in the schoolís student government. He soon finds that one of their first tasks is to assist in enforcing the schoolís strict dress code which restricts the length of shorts that students can wear in gym class. Eric is dismayed when he has to report his new friends to the principal for wearing clothes that donít meet the dress code, and he finds himself doubting the choice of joining the student government. He starts to think it might have been a better decision to have just melted into the crowd for a while. Ericís doubt turns into action as he decides to fight against the unfair dress code with the assistance of his new female friends and an encouraging staff member.
In his role within student government, in some uncomfortable situations caused by boys attending school with girls for the first time and in one difficult scene at a local gym, Ericís kindness evolves into the courage to stand up for what he thinks is right and spurs him to begin the Leggings Revolt that the book is named for. Monique Polak is able to turn a story that, at first, seems to be about a student protesting a restrictive dress code into something much more interesting; Leggings Revolt is about a young man who learns about himself while he defends what he believes in.
Penny McGill is a library assistant with an enthusiastic reading habit at the Waterloo Public Library in Waterloo, ON.
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