Monday, April 06, 2009

Chris Lynch, Tricia Rayburn

Chris Lynch's Slot Machine is one of my favorite funny boy books, so I was eager to read The Big Game of Everything. I was not disappointed. Jock and his brother Egon work at their grandfather's struggling golf course. They don't get along particularly well in the way that siblings interact-- they pound on each other, but would stop an outside party from pounding on the other one. They get involved in all manner of funny exploits which are brilliantly told (Lynch can tell serious stories, but his turns of phrase in comedy are snort-through-your-nose funny), but also have to help their grandfather through some difficult times. There are very few books about golf out, so this will satisfy a certain audience, but the general humor makes this suitable for any middle school boys who want a funny book.

My only objection: if the boys' grandmother was a profootball cheerleader in 1972, how can their father be a hippie? He's about ten years younger than I am, and no one in my generation is an honest to goodness hippie. No more hippie parents of adolescents. It doesn't work.

The Melting of Maggie Bean was recommended to me by a language arts teacher. It was a difficult book to read, since Maggie was a dysfunctional girl who coped with stress by eating large amounts of chocolate in her room, but who then started to change her lifestyle. In Maggie Bean Stays Afloat, she continues her healthy improvements, working as a swimming instructor at a summer camp, helping out with Pound Patrollers, and continuing to watch what she eats in a smart way. Her problems now revolve around how the changes in her body change her friendships. When she starts to hang out with older kids at camp, she neglects the friends who stood by her when she was picked on for being fat. Written in a thoughtful and realistic way, Maggie works through the various challenges that she faces and becomes a better person. I usually don't go for character development that much, but something about Rayburn's writing makes me really care what happens to Maggie. I will definitely put Maggie Bean in Love (December 22, 2009) on my order list as well as buy a copy for my reluctant 5th grader.


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