How I Broke My School

Children - Grade 4th-6th
227 Pages
Reviewed on 08/20/2019
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Author Biography

Diane Owens manages the Middle School Library in Orion, IL where she gets to hang out with two of her favorite things: middle grade books and the people who read them. She also helps young writers at the school through her participation in the Writers’ Workshop class.

Online, Diane helps kids write their own stories at Diane created this online writing community to assist and encourage young writers. The site features tips, techniques, activities and group projects. It also provides a safe environment for young writers to showcase their writing.

Diane is also the author of No Ordinary Lizard and Swept Up.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Lisa McCombs for Readers' Favorite

When Anna and Levi break into their school one evening to recover assignment notes, they did not expect to be part of the ongoing mystery surrounding the school’s persistent strange noises and temperature changes. Finding two sweet mice in the basement changed their lives when the mice begin to influence Levi and Anna. Timid Levi becomes fearless. Fearful Anna adopts a calm attitude that pleases her and those around her. As long as Levi and Anna have their mice, life is good. Or is it? Since 1920 the building was known to be peculiar. Stories were abundant as to the reason. Supposedly a janitor died in the basement and haunts the halls. Anna soon learns the actual reason and it is her job to right the wrongs that plague the balance of the school community.

How I Broke My School by Diane Owens is a surprising combination of middle grade coming of age and sci-fi/fantasy. Diane Owens has incorporated two very exciting reading genres into one in this tale of a “haunted” school. The characters are funny, yet quite real in narrative and social interaction. Young readers will enjoy the fantasy within the reality theme. Once the mice have reunited, the necessary balance resumes and Anna realizes, “I’ll stop concentrating on what’s wrong and start appreciating what’s right.” A fun story for all ages, I feel that grades four through six will claim this as their own as either an independent read or a class assignment.


I loved the book. It was easy to read and the kind of book where you feel that you are watching a story rather than reading it. The "message" is a great one for middle schoolers (and adults as well): There is no "perfect" way to be. We all have strengths and weaknesses and we have to learn to appreciate those in ourselves and in others. Yin and yang. Levi and Anna are good friends, but they are different. The mice are friends, but different. We have to let people be who they are and work out their own problems.

The dialogue sounds just like middle schoolers talking. The plot immediately sucks you in. Very creepy. The tension builds while we try to understand what Levi and Anna are up to. Is there a ghost? Did someone die? Are the mice really mice? Did the janitor really die? So many unanswered questions!

There is the usual cast of characters that we might expect at middle school: lunch ladies, annoying classmates, bathroom conversations, friend problems. Not to mention the mythical creatures that seems like dreams. Or are they?

Valli Putnam

My favorite relationship in the book is the father-daughter one. But that may come from my point of view. I thought your vocabulary was spot on for middle school!

Mike J. Ruff

I thought this book was wonderfully written! I enjoyed reading about Anna's inner struggle with her mom leaving. The imagery of the chicken dance (pg. 173) was hilarious. Overall, excellent book to read!!!!!

Elyse V.

This book is awesome, I loved the descriptions. I could really visualize the pictures. Anna had great adventures throughout and I love adventure books! One thing I also liked about the book is the mice. I think they were a great part of the story. I would recommend this book because I know my whole family would enjoy it. My sister loves to read and I think this book would be an awesome book for her. -Reviewed by Elyse V, age 11

Brandy Kovac

My 10 year old read this book and she said she loved it!! Kept her attention and wanted to keep reading it. When she was done reading it, she said she wished it wasn't over! She said she highly recommends this book!!

Brady W.

This book is great because it has lots of action and I liked it when the actions came. It was also full of mystery like when they went to the basement and didn’t know what would be down there. I would recommend this book because it is full of mystery and action.


Middle school students will have a hard time putting this down. This story is full of suspense, but more importantly, it has valuable lessons for young readers. From trusting people to conquering fears and having courage in yourself, this story has lessons that students and even adults could benefit from. A very fun and fast read!


My teenage daughter read this book and said it was excellent. She said the book keeps your interest at all times and is never boring. It is a book about friendship, love and balance.

Jesse Knudson

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book. I thought the character development was well defined making the characters come alive in my brain. I could visualize the children and the school in my head. I loved the Yin and Yang comparison. The black versus the white was a powerful analogy in the book. You can't wait to turn the page to see what happens next.