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The first rule of punk
Physical Description:
10 books in 1 cloth bag (310 pages : illustrations ; 20 cm) ; 37 x 46 cm. + 1 reading group guide folder.
General Note:
Includes reading group guide.

A cloth bag containing ten copies of the title and a folder with miscellaneous notes, discussion questions, biographical information, and reading lists to assist book group discussion leaders.
Reading Level:
670 L Lexile
Geographic Term:
Twelve-year-old María Luisa O'Neill-Morales (who really prefers to be called Malú) reluctantly moves with her Mexican-American mother to Chicago and starts seventh grade with a bang--violating the dress code with her punk rock aesthetic and spurning the middle school's most popular girl in favor of starting a band with a group of like-minded weirdos.


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Book club kit KT J FICTION PER 1 1

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There are no shortcuts to surviving your first day at a new school-you can't fix it with duct tape like you would your Chuck Taylors. On Day One, twelve-year-old Malo (Maria Luisa, if you want to annoy her) inadvertently upsets Posada Middle School's queen bee, violates the school's dress code with her punk rock look, and disappoints her college-professor mom in the process. Her dad, who now lives a thousand miles away, says things will get better as long as she remembers the first rule of punk- be yourself.

The real Malo loves rock music, skateboarding, zines, and Soyrizo (hold the cilantro, please). And when she assembles a group of like-minded misfits at school and starts a band, Malo finally begins to feel at home. She'll do anything to preserve this, which includes standing up to an anti-punk school administration to fight for her right to express herself!

Black and white illustrations and collage art throughout make The First Rule of Punk a perfect pick for fans of books like Roller Girl and online magazines like Rookie

Author Notes

Celia C. Perez has been making zines inspired by punk and her love of writing for longer than some of you have been alive. Her favorite zine supplies are a long-arm stapler, glue sticks, and watercolor pencils. She still listens to punk music, and she'll never stop picking cilantro out of her food at restaurants. Originally from Miami, Florida, Celia lives in Chicago with her family and works as a community college librarian. She owns two sets of worry dolls because you can never have too many. The First Rule of Punk is her first book for young readers.

Reviews 6

Publisher's Weekly Review

After María Luisa O'Neill-Morales-Malú for short-and her divorced mother move from Florida to Chicago, the 12-year-old struggles with having her music-loving father so far away and with living up to a mother she has nicknamed SuperMexican. "Admit it, Mom," Malú says during one of their squabbles. "I'm just your weird, unladylike, sloppy-Spanish-speaking, half-Mexican kid." Malú takes solace in punk music and in creating handmade zines, which appear throughout; she also begins to make friends, forming a band-the Co-Co's-that blends punk and Mexican music. (It also reclaims the slur "coconut," which one of Malú's classmates calls her.) Pérez's debut is as exuberant as its heroine, who discovers that there's real overlap between her Mexican heritage and the punk ethos she so admires. The relationships between children and parents are handled especially well: Malú chafes at her mother's traditionalism while idolizing her friend Joe's mother, a cafe owner who represents a merging of Mexican and punk cultures in a way that impresses Malú. A rowdy reminder that people are at their best when they aren't forced into neat, tidy boxes. Ages 9-12. Agent: Stefanie Von Borstel, Full Circle Literary. (Aug.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Horn Book Review

[Books by Horn Book reviewers are not reviewed; we provide notice of publication and descriptive comment.] The first rule of punk is to be yourself, but its hard for Mal, the bicultural daughter of divorced parents, to know exactly what that means. Her white dad doesnt understand her internal struggles with her Mexican American identity, and her mom would rather Mal were more seorita than punk. Starting a band becomes a chance to explore her heritage as well as her musical interests. Eight-page zines featuring Mals collages punctuate the text. (c) Copyright 2017. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Booklist Review

In her story of seventh-grader Malú, debut author Pérez harnesses the spirit of School of Rock and gives it a punk rock spin. Malú isn't happy about her recent move to Chicago, because it meant leaving her dad (her parents are amicably divorced) and his record store behind. She tries to assume a brave punk attitude, but she can't help being anxious on her first day of school, especially when she gets on the wrong side of the class mean girl. When Malú learns about the upcoming Fall Fiesta talent show, she decides to form a band, with the hopes of finding her people in the process. While this plan hits a few snags, it results in friendships and a Mexican punk mentor. Like any good riot grrrl, Malú finds a creative outlet in making zines, several of which appear in the novel and call attention to Malú's passions, heritage (she is half Mexican), and private concerns. Pérez delivers an upbeat story of being true to yourself and your beliefs, that tweens will rally behind.--Smith, Julia Copyright 2017 Booklist

New York Review of Books Review

BILLY ZOOM, the guitarist for the Los Angeles punk band X, once read a review of the first Ramones album that, he recalled, said "all their songs were too fast, too short, only had three chords, no guitar solos, the lyrics were dumb." To Zoom, "it just all sounded like real positive things." Maria Luisa O'Neill-Morales, the 12year-old narrator of Celia C. Perez's children's book debut, "The First Rule of Punk," would probably add to that list of virtues the Ramones' leather-jacketed, pudding-bowl-haircut look. She's trying to cultivate her own punk style, if only life would stop interfering. As the novel opens, Malú - as she's called by those who don't want to irritate her - has her bags packed: Her English-professor mother's teaching fellowship means they'll be moving to Chicago for two years. At least it's a brand-new subject for her zines, pastiches with handwritten, drawn and collage elements that Pérez, a seasoned zine artist, plants between chapters. They are "selfpublished booklets, like homemade magazines," Malú explains to readers who may have been born after the dawn of the medium. Zines "can be about anything - not just punk." In the Ramones' and X's heyday, fanzines were indeed dedicated to punk and indie rock bands, but in this confessional era, why wouldn't they also be, as Malú's are, diary-like repositories for tween-age angst? In Chicago, Malú, whose parents are divorced, pines for her father, Michael, who, conjuring a long-lost Nick Hornby character, lives in an apartment above his record shop back home in Florida. It's the punk bands of Michael's generation that speak to Malú, although Pérez has her young protagonist say things like "punky" and "rad," which makes her sound like a Disney-style punk - more Bill and Ted than Sid and Nancy. But Malú is a kid straddling multiple worlds, so this seeming mismatch may be Perez's point. Michael likes to tell his daughter, "You got your Mexican from Mom and your punk from me." Her mom, Magaly Morales - or SuperMexican, as Malú refers to her - teaches Latino literature, wears Guadalupe earrings, and wants her daughter to "try for less punk rocker and more señorita." Malú figures she's an utter failure at "this señorita business," what with her vegetarianism, black nail polish, and Doc Martens. Also, what kind of Mexican hates cilantro? Malú's dad tells her that to find her place at her new school she must follow the first rule of punk: Be yourself. It doesn't work. On Malú's first day of seventh grade, her heavily made-up eyes (SuperMexican tells her she looks like Nosferatu) earn her both chiding from a mean girl named Selena Ramirez and a dress-code violation. All infractors must report to the school auditorium, where Malú spots a potential kindred spirit in blue-haired Joe (né José) Hidalgo. Soon Malú ropes Joe and two other wallflowers into forming a band so they can audition for the school talent show. The band gets its name, the Co-Co's, from Selena, who calls Malú a coconut: brown on the outside but white on the inside. Despite rewriting the Ramones' "Blitzkrieg Bop" with adult-pacifying lyrics and rehearsing themselves silly, the Co-Co's don't make the cut. Malú finds out the problem was not the band's lack of talent but its lack of traditionalism and volume control. Joe calls this what it is - "anti-weirdo discrimination" - and the Co-Co's start a protest that even normals can support. Malú's struggle over whether she can have both a punk and a Mexican identity plays out a bit too schematically. It's a little too handy that Joe's mom, who has tattoos and a pink stripe in her hair, arrives at just the right time, ready to teach Malú about the Mexicans who helped build American punk. (Wouldn't Malú's dad have shared this intel?) More affecting are the glimpses at Malú's anxieties in her zines. "It's like Mom's Maria Luisa and my Malú are two different people," she writes in one called "The Story of a Name (My Name!)." Right before Joe dyes Malú's hair green, he says, "Your problem is, you think punk is about the way someone looks. Or the music someone listens to," to which Malú replies, "Well, that's part of it." That she's trying to figure out who she is, one look at a time, doesn't make her a poser; it makes her an adolescent finding her way while tussling with a parent who doesn't get her. And it gives Malú's story a universality that can speak to someone who's coconut, Oreo, white bread - or anything else. Nell Beram is the co-author of "Yoko Ono: Collector of Skies." She writes the column Best Forgotten for The Awl.

School Library Journal Review

Gr 3-6-A fun romp through the awkward years of middle school that examines themes of identity and culture. When Malu has to move away from her dad and everything she knows, she takes her love of punk music with her. Following the rules of punk, she embarks on a new school journey, full of misadventures and hilarious life lessons. Malu is happy not to fit in with the crowd yet cannot bring herself to tell her mom that her passion for punk is not a rebellious phase-it's who she is. When classmates label Malu a coconut (brown on the outside and white on the inside), she is determined to prove to her school and herself that she is proud of her Mexican roots. With tenderness and humor, Pérez explores the joys and challenges of being biracial. Readers will connect with Malu, a strong protagonist who leaps off the page and whose zine-inspired artistry boldly illustrates how she deals with life. VERDICT Those who enjoy vivacious, plucky heroines, such as the protagonists of Brenda Woods's The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond, Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich and Audrey Vernick's Two Naomis, and Rebecca Stead's Goodbye Stranger, will eagerly embrace Malu.-Jessica Bratt, Grand Rapids Public Library, MI © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

Mal wants to be totally punk at her new middle school, but her Mexican-American mother would prefer she learn to be a proper seorita. Twelve-year-old Mara Luisa O'Neill-Morales, aka Mal, loves punk-rock music, hanging out at her father's indie record store, and making zines. She doesn't love moving from her home in Gainesville, Florida, to Chicago for her professor mother's two-year appointment at a university. Although she loves both of her amicably divorced parents, Malwho favors Chuck Taylors and music T'sfeels closer to her laid-back, artsy white father than her supportive but critical academic mother, whom she calls "SuperMexican." At Mal's new majority-Latino school, she quickly makes an enemy of beautiful Selena, who calls her a "coconut" (brown on the outside, white on the inside) and warns her about falling in with the class "weirdos." Mal does befriend the school misfits (one activist white girl and two fellow "coconuts") and enlists them to form a band to play a punk song at the Fall Fiesta. Middle-grade readers will appreciate the examples of Mal's zines and artwork, which delightfully convey her journey of self-discovery. The author surrounds the feisty protagonist with a trio of older women (including her mom, her best friend Joe's tattooed, punk-loving mother, and his humorous Abuela) who help her embrace being Mexican and punk. A charming debut about a thoughtful, creative preteen connecting to both halves of her identity. (Fiction. 9-13) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

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