Review: The Do More Club

The Do More Club

by Dana Kramaroff

Rocky Pond Books (imprint of Penguin Random House), 2023

Category: Middle Grade
Reviewer: Meg Wiviott

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Sixth-grader Josh doesn’t feel comfortable in his new school. In truth, he doesn’t feel comfortable in his own skin. He hides who he really is—probably the only Jewish kid in his middle school—especially once the school is vandalized with swastikas. Gradually, Josh realizes other students are subjected to other forms of prejudice, and when the one Black student experiences a similar racial attack, Josh is determined to become an ally and forms the Do More Club, based on tikkun olam. Though the club is a success, there are further acts of antisemitism, teaching Josh that change takes time.

The Do More Club is fast paced. Written in verse, mostly using lower case with little punctuation, makes a difficult story more digestible. Josh is a likeable and sympathetic character. His problems are, sadly, real. Kramaroff creates poignant moments of raw pain. Unfortunately, the pain of secondary characters who suffer prejudices just as hurtful as those experienced by Josh are skimmed over. Further, when Josh creates the Do More Club, he becomes a hero, which seems problematic given the other acts of racism in the story. These issues, however, can be further explored in the much-needed conversations about antisemitism, equality and equity, and bullying this book is bound to start. Highly recommended to get the conversation going.

The Judaism presented in The Do More Club feels authentic and does not represent any specific stream of Judaism. It certainly seems to accurately represent the feelings of being one of only a few Jews in a small town. The Jewish content is absolutely integral and the ideas of tikkun olam are explained simply for non-Jewish readers to understand.

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Reviewer Meg Wiviott is the author of the YA novel in verse PAPER HEARTS, which received a 2016 Christopher Award and was also a Cybils Poetry Finalist and a 2015 Nerdy Poetry and Novel in Verse Winner. Her picture book, BENNO AND THE NIGHT OF BROKEN GLASS, was se-lected as one of SLJ’s Best Picture Books of 2010 and made CCBC’s Best Choice List. She holds an MFA from the Vermont College of Fine Arts.