As a young kid not knowing where I fit in, when I found punk music I found myself. More importantly, after years of existing in the margins at school and at home, I found a community. It wasn’t just about music (entirely), it was about a collective that accepted people for who they were, not their status at school or the kind of clothes they wore. It was a a group of people that inspired empathy, friendship, and the importance of being socially active. One of the main themes in Celia C. Pérez’s Pura Belpré Author Honor-winning book, THE FIRST RULE OF PUNK, is to be yourself (it is after all the first rule of punk). It’s a story of a twelve-year-old girl starting a new school, learning to be herself, discovering friendship and empathy, but it’s also a story about finding community.
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 Malú (María 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 Malú 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, Malú 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! Filled with black and white illustrations from Malú’s zines, this middle grade novel will appeal to graphic novel fans and readers from elementary through middle school!
Common Reads programs promote literacy, create community, and encourage reflection. THE FIRST RULE OF PUNK is a book that can do just that. Contra Costa County Library selected it for their One City, One Read in Pleasant Hill and Rhode Island selected it for their Kids Reading Across Rhode Island program. Florida also has the book on it’s SSYRA list for the upcoming 2018-2019 school year. The paperback is out now so join these communities and share THE FIRST RULE OF PUNK with your readers…and always remember to be yourself!