Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

December 5, 2013

Keeping it real

Andover child psychologist returns to grade-school corridors in new book

By Kelly Burch
Staff Writer

---- — Kevin isn’t a real-life middle-schooler, but every one of the situations he encounters comes from real-life events.

That’s what Larry Larsen, PhD., a youth psychologist and longtime contributor to the Andover Townsman’s sister paper, The Eagle-Tribune, says about the protagonist in his new book for tweens and their parents as they navigate adolescence.

“Middle School Chronicles” is written from the perspective of an “almost” 13-year-old. In addition to being the main character’s name, Kevin also is the pen name that Larsen uses as the book’s author. He garnered all the material from conversations he has shared with middle school students in his Andover counseling offices during his career.

“My mom was a fourth-grade teacher and one of her greatest regrets was that she didn’t keep notes,” Larsen said. “I said to myself, ‘I will try to remember as many as I can.’”

The stories are funny and outrageous, showing the way that middle-school students move toward adulthood, while keeping one foot firmly planted in childhood. Kevin begins noticing girls (including his beautiful art teacher), but also keeps a “pet” sandwich in his locker for a year — mold, stench and all.

For Larsen, the book has a serious side, too.

“I wanted to find a voice that kids and parents could appreciate,” he said. “I wanted to give a humorous and informative look at the nature of middle school — the untold story.”

He hopes that Kevin will help children realize that they aren’t alone and will help adults understand a little bit what their teens are going through.

“Children experience things in a different way than parents,” he said.

Larsen said that to write the book, he had to get in touch with his inner child.

“All adults have a child inside,” he said. “The issues only change in terms of the looking glass.”

He also had to think back to the time when his two grown children were frequenting middle-school hallways. His experiences as a parent gave him a different perspective than those as a therapist, he said.

“I would thoroughly distrust a therapist without kids,” Larsen said. “They haven’t been through the trenches. It’s great to have theory on parenting, but working through it is a different issue.”

“Middle School Chronicles” is available in print and e-book through amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.