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Children's Fiction Friendship

Weird Rules to Follow

by (author) Kim Spencer

Orca Book Publishers
Initial publish date
Oct 2022
Friendship, Native Canadian, Prejudice & Racism, Multigenerational, Adolescence
Recommended Age
9 to 12
Recommended Grade
4 to 7
Recommended Reading age
9 to 12
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Oct 2022
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2022
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Where to buy it


“Readers will be left with a rich image of Mia’s world and the family and people that surround her as well as a strong sense of how culture and class impact people’s experiences. A touching exploration of identity and culture.”—Kirkus Reviews

Mia knows her family is very different than her best friend's.

In the 1980s, the coastal fishing town of Prince Rupert is booming. There is plenty of sockeye salmon in the nearby ocean, which means the fishermen are happy and there is plenty of work at the cannery. Eleven-year-old Mia and her best friend, Lara, have known each other since kindergarten. Like most tweens, they like to hang out and compare notes on their crushes and dream about their futures. But even though they both live in the same cul-de-sac, Mia’s life is very different from her non-Indigenous, middle-class neighbor. Lara lives with her mom, her dad and her little brother in a big house, with two cars in the drive and a view of the ocean. Mia lives in a shabby wartime house that is full of relatives—her churchgoing grandmother, binge-drinking mother and a rotating number of aunts, uncles and cousins. Even though their differences never seemed to matter to the two friends, Mia begins to notice how adults treat her differently, just because she is Indigenous. Teachers, shopkeepers, even Lara’s parents—they all seem to have decided who Mia is without getting to know her first.

About the author

Kim Spencer is a graduate of the Writers Studio at Simon Fraser University, where she focused on creative nonfiction. Two of her short stories were published in an anthology released through SFU, and an experimental short story of hers appeared in Filling Station magazine and was shortlisted for the Alberta Magazine Publishers Association Award. Kim was selected as a mentee by the Writers Union of Canada for BIPOC Writers Connect, as well as for ECW's BIPOC Writers Mentorship Program. Her first novel, Weird Rules to Follow debuted on the BC Bestsellers list, received a Kirkus starred review and was named a USBBY 2023 Outstanding International Book. Kim is from the Ts’msyen Nation in northwest BC and currently lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Kim Spencer's profile page


  • Nominated, Red Cedar Book Award
  • Short-listed, Hackmatack Children's Choice Book Award
  • Short-listed, BC & Yukon Book Prize — Sheila A. Egoff Children's Literature Prize
  • Nominated, Canadian Children's Book Centre (CCBC) Jean Little First-Novel Award
  • Commended, USBBY Outstanding International Books List
  • Short-listed, Indigenous Voices Award
  • Short-listed, Chocolate Lily Book Awards
  • Commended, Bank Street College of Education Children's Book Committee Best Children's Books of the Year
  • Winner, IODE Violet Downey Book Award
  • Nominated, Canadian Children's Book Centre (CCBC) TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award
  • Nominated, Canadian Children's Book Centre (CCBC) Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People
  • Commended, CCBC Best Books for Kids and Teens

Editorial Reviews

“Like a photo album but in text rather than in pictures…providing the reader with a layered, nuanced picture of Mia’s life.”


“Heartfelt and moving…Recommended.”

CM: Canadian Review of Materials

“Easy to read but poetic and focused…This story, while fiction, rings true.”

The Horn Book


School Library Connection

“Authentic and honest…Excellent for upper elementary and middle school students, either in a literature circle or independently.”

Children's Literature

★“Readers will be left with a rich image of Mia’s world and the family and people that surround her as well as a strong sense of how culture and class impact people’s experiences. A touching exploration of identity and culture.”

Kirkus Reviews, starred review

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