Rich Wallace is such an interesting author, and he clearly knows what boys want to read. His One Good Punch was slim but utterly dynamic. Losing is Not an Option: Stories is about as close to Literature that I have read recently. Nine loosely connected stories about Ron, following him through various activities through a year (sneaking into a football game, going to the fair) are rather philosophical, and yet filled with enough sly humor and bad language that boys will not realize they are reading such good prose. I would not be at all surprised if these stories made it into high school anthologies. For some reason, John Updike's A&P(1961) came to mind when I read this. Not for elementary schools, however.
The flip side: I was oddly intrigued by The Clique series. I really didn't care for the first two, but I took the fourth one home. (Invasion of the Boy Snatchers) It was really mean, and completely unrealistic. Not even a private school is going to let students set up an organic juice bar called "Virgins" in school. The main plot is that Alicia's cousin Nina comes from Spain to go to school. She is well endowed for a middle school student and described in a way that would make a college student sound conservatively dressed. Again, not realistic. She is, of course, a threat to Massie, who is relentlessly mean to her. Massie and Claire are friends now, but this was an unpleasant book. I will have to ask the girls why these are so appealing. The constant name dropping of expensive clothing labels was tiresome and will date this series almost instantly. That said, my reluctant 5th grader picked this one up. It makes me feel slighly better that her all time favorite book is Tuck Everlasting. Sigh.
Of course, what did I spend way too much time being amused by? Christian Lander's Stuff White People Like. Not for school collections, obviously. Not literature. Hilarious, though, in that "Has this man been living in my basement and I didn't know it?" sort of way, combined with a sneaking suspicion that the book was somehow inappropriate. Maybe this is why girls like The Clique. This did help explain my love for riding my bike to work (and telling you all about it), blogging, tote bags, books, red hair (my husband and son), and glasses with dark plastic frames. Here I thought it was because they reminded me of the glasses my father wore in the 1960s!
Now I must go reprogram a bunch of televisions so the 6th and 7th grades can watch educational films while the 8th graders are testing. Darn. I thought that by calling myself a Librarian instead of a Media Specialist, I would get out of this. Nope.