Martin McLean, Middle School Queen

By Alyssa Zaczek (Author)


Format Hardcover, Jacketed


Martin McLean, Middle School Queen

by Alyssa Zaczek



Barnes and Noble Indiebound
In this bighearted middle-grade debut, Martin McLean struggles to find his voice—and his inner diva—as he navigates friendship, family, first crushes, and a whole lot of glitter.

“An amusing story that's bursting with diversity at every turn. . . . A tasty treat.”Kirkus (Starred review)
Seventh-grader Martin McLean has always been surrounded by people who can express themselves. His mother is an artist, his colorful Tío Billy works in theater, and his best friends Carmen and Pickle are outgoing and don’t care what other people think. But Martin can only find the right words when he’s answering a problem at a Mathletes competition—until his tío introduces him to the world of drag. In a swirl of sequins and stilettos, Martin creates his fabulous drag queen alter ego, Lottie León. As Lottie, he is braver than he’s ever been; but as Martin, he doesn’t have the guts to tell anyone outside of his family about her. Not Carmen and Pickle, not his Mathletes teammates, and definitely not Chris, an eighth-grader who gives Martin butterflies. When Martin discovers that his first-ever drag show is the same night as the most important Mathletes tournament, he realizes that he can only pull off both appearances by revealing his true self to his friends—and channeling his inner drag superstar.

“Amazing, fierce, and very inspirational . . . this book will inspire kids to express themselves.” —Desmond is Amazing
“Never, in a million years, did I ever expect to read a story about an actual drag kid! It was amazing and inspiring and perfect for kids like me!” —Nemis Quinn Mélançon Golden, aka Lactatia
“A beautiful story of coming of age and self-realization . . . I love this book.” —E! the Dragnificent

“Martin McLean, you'd better work it. Mixed-race (Afro-Cuban and white) Martin McLean's seventh grade year starts out with a bang. On his first day, Martin has a panic attack in math class when a comment made by a bullying Mathletes teammate makes Martin wonder if he's gay. Sensing this conversation might be on the horizon, Martin's Afro-Cuban single mother calls in her brother, Tío Billy, a gay theater producer and sometime drag queen who has been a strong male figure in Martin's life. Billy, sensing the need to help Martin discover a broader community than his school peers provide, takes Billy to an LGBTQ-friendly cafe that's hosting an all-ages drag competition. Bit by the showbiz bug, Martin wants to enter only to realize that it's on the same night as the Mathletes' regional championship. What's a queen-in-training to do? Overall, Zaczek tells an amusing story that's bursting with diversity at every turn. . . .his often naïve approach to life will attract fans of Richard Peck's The Best Man (2016). . . . Readers new to drag culture will . . . enjoy Zaczek's sweetly crafted world. A tasty treat.” —Kirkus (Starred review)

Martin McLean, Middle School Queen is a thoughtful exploration of how we contain multitudes. This accessible, inclusive novel shows we are as infinite as the universe and have the potential to be as bright as the stars. You’ll cheer and root for Martin (Lottie) as he figures out how to celebrate all the parts of who he is. This book will leave you feeling triumphant!” — Donna Gephart, award-winning author of Lily and Dunkin and The Paris Project

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Alyssa Zaczek is an author, playwright, journalist, and a lifelong lover of words. Martin McLean, Middle School Queen is her debut novel. Originally from Chicago, Alyssa now lives in St. Cloud, MN. Visit her online at and on Twitter @AlyssaDZaczek.

Pub Date: 1/7/2020

ISBN: 9781454935704

Price: $16.95 / $22.95 CAN

Format: Hardcover, Jacketed

Pages: 272 pages

Trim: 5.125 x 7.625 Inches

Territories: WENG

Category: Juvenile / Middle Grade Fiction

Age Range: 8 to 12

Publisher: Sterling Children's Books

Carton Quantity: 16