Scout Is Not a Band Kid by Jade Armstrong

The cover of the graphic novel. Two kids hold trombones. The one with pink hair, Scout, is playing the instrument and notes emerge from it. The one with black hair, Merrin, clamps their hand over their ear.

Review by Kaileigh Funnell

Random House Graphic, April 2022

Ebook, $10.99 CAD, 9780593176252

Ages 8-12, Grades 4-7

Graphic Novel

Four-panel excerpt from Scout is Not a Band Kid.

Panel 1: Scout struggles to play the trombone.

Panel 2: Merrin notices Scout struggling.

Panel 3: Scout - "Hey, what do these little dots mean...?"

Merrin - "What little dots?"

Panel 4: Teacher - "Let's try that one again."

Scout - "You know... these ones."

Merrin - "You mean the music notes?"
from Scout Is Not a Band Kid

What would you do if you found out your favourite author of all time was going to be appearing at a festival just a little too far out of town? Would you hotwire a van? Pack a hiking bag and get walking? Or would you even go so far as to join your middle school band club?

That’s exactly what eighth-grader Scout Martins decides to do when she discovers that her school’s band will be taking an end-of-year trip to AlmonteFest, the exact festival her idol Pristine Wong will be attending. The plan is foolproof. The only things standing in her way are her inability to actually play the trombone and the abrasive section leader Merrin Lafreniere. Scout thinks that Merrin needs to calm down and stop taking band so seriously, while Merrin thinks Scout needs to step up and take responsibility. After constantly butting heads, the band teacher threatens to kick them both out if they can’t learn to get along. Now forced to figure out how to work together so they can both stay in band and reach their goals, the pair might see they’re not as different as they previously thought.

Jade Armstrong’s graphic novel Scout Is Not a Band Kid is incredibly fun, with an abundance of jokes throughout the charming panels and a story that dives into the messy world of eighth-grade friendships. The expressive and lively artwork enhances the childlike wonder of the story while also serving as an endless source for hidden jokes and references that make you want to spend extra time with every page. The novel is filled with pop-culture references that any current or former fandom kid will not only understand but love, celebrating the passion and determination that lies in every chronically online artsy teen. Along with being a very fun read, the novel tackles very real issues that all young kids face, such as finding your true friends and a community of people who not only enjoy the same things as you but support your interests regardless. All the while, Armstrong features lovable characters with clear and memorable voices, representing diverse gender expressions in a heartwarmingly casual, accepting way.  Any fans of series such as Heartstopper by Alice Oseman or The Adventure Zone by the McElroy family will fall in love with Scout and her quirky friends.

I highly recommend Scout Is Not a Band Kid to anyone who is spending or has spent their teen years scrolling through gif sets or sending fic recs to friends. It’s a novel that feels like a warm celebration of all things fandom and nerdy, and I can’t wait to read it again and again.

Kaileigh Funnell is a non-binary student at the University of British Columbia studying theatre design and production with a minor in Creative Writing. They grew up in Clarenville, Newfoundland, and are now based out of Vancouver, BC. They have a passion for writing, specifically young adult novels and comics.

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