Katie Friedman Gives Up Texting! (And Lives to Tell About It.)

illus. by J.P. Coovert. 240p. (Charlie Joe Jackson). Roaring Brook. Feb. 2015. Tr $13.99. ISBN 9781596438378.
Gr 4–7—Katie Friedman's day begins the same way it does for many middle schoolers: she eats cereal, gets dressed, and rides the bus to school, all while texting with her friends. One day, she sends a message meant for a friend to her boyfriend, Nareem, about how she wants to break up with him. This embarrassing mix-up, coupled with the anti-technology views of her favorite singer, lead Katie to give up texting for a week, and she tries to convince 10 friends to do it with her. The incentive: backstage passes to see her favorite band. The kids end up enjoying the "real communication" that occurs when they put their phones away, but they also miss the perks of cell phones—from coordinating rides home to the quick pick-me-up of a funny text from a friend. Greenwald's message is clear: what matters is being honest and connecting with each other regardless of what medium is used. The quick pacing and well-described world make up for the potentially didactic nature of the subject. The plot is somewhat contrived, but fans of Charlie Joe Jackson's world will enjoy getting to spend more time with these characters. Small black-and-white cartoons are scattered throughout.—Gesse Stark-Smith, Multnomah County Library, Portland, OR
Katie--like her bestie, Charlie Joe Jackson, and everyone in their middle-school class--texts constantly. After sending the wrong text and jeopardizing a good friendship, Katie takes a cue from her technology-hating rock-star idol and swears off screens for a week. The story feels purposeful, but Greenwald's meditation on the timely topic of technology use among tweens avoids preachiness.

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