Sunday, November 16, 2008

Shanahan, Lisa. The sweet terrible glorious year I truly completely lost it

Shanahan, Lisa. The sweet terrible, glorious year I truly completely lost it. Delacorte, 2007 [978-0-385-73516-2]
Gemma has an interesting year. Her sister decides to get married to a boy from a military family. They two families are nothing alike... can they ever get along or even understand each other in planning for the wedding or performing the ceremony. Meanwhile Gemma tries out for her HS play, The Tempest by Shakepeare and Raven, a boy from the local thug family also tries out and falls for her. Gemma does not understand Raven, his life, or his family but the play seems to parallel her life and draws the two together. Then after the cast party for the play there is a terrible tragedy in town. Will Gemma ever understand Raven? Can the two families getting married together ever understand each other. Will Gemma blow her cork? I found the first 3/4 of this 297 page book to be confusing.. not worth the struggle and although some things pull together at the end and make sense, my whole response to the books is, "What is the point of the whole thing?" To top it off it is written by an Australian author with many "Austrailaisms" and there is no glossary. Many times there were words, I had no idea what they were. I don't see the point to this book or a reason to put up with the confusion to read it... I nearly didn't finish it.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Burlion, Leslie. Uncharted waters

Burlion, Leslie. Uncharted waters. Peachtree, 2006 [1-56145-365-x]

Jonah and his sister are sent to spend the summer between his 7th and 8th grade with their favorite Uncle at the lake when their parents go to Europe. Jonah has some secrets that he wants to keep away from his Uncle. His Uncle has arranged for Jonah to join the lake’s swim team. Unfortunately Jonah had been hospitalized for severe jelly-stings and hates the water. He makes a deal with his sister to join the swim team in his place while Jonah has an interesting summer working for a crusty old guy and a hot college co-ed doing research on the lake. In this 185 page book Jonah has to face his fears and his insecurities in living with his lies and fears. This is a good read.

Shahan, Sherry. Death Mountain

Shahan, Sherry. Death Mountain. Peachtree, 2005 [1-56145-353-6]

Erin is going to visit her mother who she hasn’t seen in over a year when she loses her bus ticket and ends up pairing up with an unlikely friend in the mountains when they get lost and have to survive on a six-day ordeal. I felt the situation was a little contrived and some of the survival narrative unreal, but it is a good survival-suspense story for the kids who like that kind of genre. This 201 page book is a quick read.. maybe a high-interest type of book for your lower readers in the middle school.

Koss, Amy Goldman. Side effects

Koss, Amy Goldman. Side effects. Roaring Book Press, 2005 [1-59643-294-2]

Izzy is a normal fifteen-year-old girl until she goes to the doctor about her swollen glands and discovers she has lymphoma. This 143 page book is not the usual “kid-gets-cancer” book where the reader reads to see if she dies or recovers. That is really insignificant in this story. This is a personal account of how she, her family and her friends deal with her treatment and the side effects. It is all about the journey, not the ending. Although short, this book is deals with a mature topic.

Haddon, Mark. The curious incident of the dog in the night-time

Haddon, Mark. The curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. Vintage, 2002 [978-1-4000-3271-6]

One night Christopher finds his neighbor’s dog murdered with a pitchfork. Because he is found with the dog, he is taken to the police station where his father picks him up. The reader slowly realizes that Christopher is not a normal child. He is autistic. What makes this incredible story so powerful is that the book is narrated by Christopher. The reader gets into the mind of an autistic child, his feelings, his thoughts, and his rationale. All the twists of the plot are seen through Christopher’s eyes. This 226 page book was very enlightening to me. Although I had been a special education teacher for 13 years, knowing all the book-learning and even working with autistic children did not make me feel like this book. This is a MUST-READ for anyone who has any contact with an autistic person. Please be aware that when Christopher goes out into the world, he meets people who use some colorful language. There are people using the “f-word” and the “c-word.” It is not overdone.. but it is there.