Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Peter David's Mascot

I'm going to have to file Peter David's Mascot To the Rescue under "Huh?". It looks like a book that would appeal to students who like comics or graphic novels. Josh, a big comic book fan, thinks that everything that happens to Mascot, a character in a Captain Major comic, happens to him. When pages are leaked that suggest that Mascot dies, Josh enlists a new friend to find the author and change the course of the comic.

This has some potential to be great fun, and there are some illustrations in the book by a comic book artist. However, children who pick this up because they like comics or think the book will be amusing will be disappointed. Josh has some serious mental health issues going on-- he is often deluded that he IS Mascot and behaves accordingly, which causes the school to contact social services, because Josh's mother, who is recently divorced and struggling, does not treat the problem seriously enough.

This would be fine if this looked like a problem novel from the onset. Students who like to pick up problem novels are going to be put off by the format. I did consider buying this, since it could circulate if explained well, but I had issues with the overweight girl in the book (Really? Large Lass? That's a superhero name?) as well as the deus ex machina ending wherein social services arrives but is made to go away because the writer of Captain Major is going to take Josh under his wing. Maybe a purchase for larger libraries, but ultimately I decided to pass.

In case you missed it, Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book won the Newbery Award this year. I am very surprised, since I bought two copies of this AND the children like it. See? It is possible to have quality books that children actually read. I loved this comment, as reported by The New York Times: "Rose V. TreviƱo, chairwoman of the Newbery committee, said the popularity of Mr. Gaiman’s novel had nothing to do with its selection. “We chose the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children,” she said."

We've had this whole discussion several times. I'm just happy.

Receiving honors were The Underneath by Kathi Appelt (I have on reserve at the public library) , Savvy by Ingrid Law (ditto, although it doesn't sound appealing) The Surrender Tree by Margarita Engle (poems), and After Tupac and D Foster by Jacqueline Woodson (which I bought and has circulated better than other Woodson titles).


cindy said...

came over from jacket whys. =) i am so thrilled for neil gaiman. i just started reading the graveyard book today and already pulled in by his world and his words.

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