Kekla Magoon‘s middle grade novel Camo Girl is unexpected in all the best ways. Ella, the narrator, is friends with Z, the strangest boy in the whole grade. Both of them are ostracized, and they cope by creating an imaginary world where nothing bothers either of them. But when Bailey shows up, the cool new kid (and this is just one of the tropes Magoon upends: sometimes the new kid is instantly cool), he lets it be known that calling Ella “Camo Face” is not okay. They strike up a friendship that threatens Z’s delicate grip on reality. So much is tied into this story: race, middle school cool, middle school mean, and family. It was published in 2011, and I don’t know why I haven’t read it earlier.
For teachers that want to extend the learning, here are some activities.