The First Rule of Punk, / by Celia C. Pérez
Puffin Books     ISBN     9780425290422
INT     Grades 3-6     Rating:     4

Celia C. Pérez pens a delightful story of friendship, middle school, and finding your inner worth.

In The First Rule of Punk, twelve-year-old Malú (María Luisa) moves to Chicago with her mother.

On her first day of school at Posada Middle School, she annoys the most popular girl and breaks dress code with her punk rock look. Her Mexican-American mother is disappointed Malú isn’t more of a girly-girl.  Malú loves rock music, zines, and Mexican food (without cilantro!). She doesn’t fit the mold of the popular crowd. Some classmates call her a coconut (white on the inside and brown on the outside).

Her dad who lives over a thousand miles away, reminds her of the first rule of punk: be yourself. Malú is proud of her Mexican heritage but she also loves punk music. Can she combine the two? Malú gathers a group of students who don’t fit the standard mold, and they start a punk music band for the upcoming fall festival. But will the principal let them perform at the festival?

The First Rule of Punk has black-and-white-illustrations, and the collage art emphasizes the story’s theme of creating something new. Even the end papers capture the essence of the book’s theme. Like Malú, Pérez is a fan of punk music, dislikes cilantro, and loves writing and making zines inspired by punk. She presents a book that speaks from her heart about Mexican-American and Cuban-American culture, being different from others, and being confident in one’s true self.

Recommended for school and public libraries. The First Rule of Punk won the 2018 Pura Belpre Author Honor Book, and 2018 Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award Winner.

Carol R. Gehringer

— reprinted with permission, Christian Library Journal, 2018.

Disclaimer: Book reviews are my honest opinion of books I either purchased or received free of cost from the publishers, publicists, and/or authors. I am not required to write reviews, nor to even post positive reviews.