Friday, November 11, 2011

Guy Friday- Parkour

I learn a lot from reading. Parkour is something that has never come across my radar, mainly because if I did it, I would break a hip. Shuffling along the sidewalk pretending to run, sure. Jumping over park benches and scaling walls, we'll leave to the young folk. Oddly, two books I picked up yesterday both dealt with this sport.

Tashjian, Janet. My Life as a Stuntboy. Illustrations by Jake Tashjian.
This sequel to the well-recieved My Life as a Book finds Derek avoiding his reading by hopping around in parks with friends, but he is the one approached to be a stuntboy. His father does storyboards for movies (they live in California), so this makes sense. Even though Derek finds himself being the stunt double for a girl his age, he enjoys the work. His friend Mike, however, is jealous and finds many different ways to bedevil Derek. Also complicating matters-- Derek is being tutored because he is still having a lot of trouble with reading, and his foster monkey (the family is training it to be an aide animal) causes some problems as well.
Strengths: Again, this looks like a full-length book but is really short. The harder vocabulary has illustrations describing it at the side. Derek is a well-developed character, and the crush on the actress adds a nice touch.
Weaknesses: Not many, but since I'm reading a book about font that just trashed one of my favorites, Comic Sans, I felt conflicted about the similar font in this. (According to this book, I'm a horrible person with no taste because I like this!) Who knew?

Daher, Anita. Two Foot Punch.
Nikki and her brother Derek are reeling after the death of their parents in a house fire that was caused by one of Derek's friends. They have moved from Toronto to live with their aunt (who is a judge) in Winnpeg. Nikki takes a lot of comfort from running parkour, and makes sure to run at the safest times. (I also feel that by 5 am, the evil drug crazed criminals are probably asleep!) She meets Rain, who is a gymnast who wants to try the sport, but things soon become complicated. Derek is kidnapped by people who want their aunt to judge a case a certain way, and Rain and Nikki put themselves in danger to save him.
Strengths: These Orca Sports short books are incredibly well done. They cover such a wide variety of sports, and include high interest problems. I will have this in the hand of a student today who needs a mystery finished by Monday! Or Picky Reader. She might actually finish this before she gets tired of it.
Weaknesses: These are very small books, so there is very little margin on the pages. Why this bothers me, I'm not sure, but the readers who pick these up are overly affected by factors like white space on a page, so I wish they would be more of a standard US paperback size.

Short Rant:
Went to a book look last night and came home with 34 hardcovers. Now, I need to process them. This is what teachers do-- spend $50 of our own money to go to a book look, spend two hours madly scribbling reviews, and then trying to get the books processed during already crowded school days that start insanely early. But it's my own fault.

Sorry, our levy went down. I have absolutely no objection to taking a pay cut-- what hurts is people saying mean things about teachers. I'd work harder if I could, but it would require living at school, and then I would be a bad parent.


Michael G-G said...

My son, then an 8th-grader, really liked a novel with parcour in it (parcour was big at his middle school.) I think the novel was called Hacking Timbuktu.

You should not have to take a pay cut, and you should not have to say you'd be happy to take a pay cut. I wouldn't be. Teachers are an easy target, it seems, and I have had enough with people who malign them. I can't think of many other professions where a person gives so much, for such an important cause, for so little financial remuneration. Thank you--and every teacher--for the work that you do.

Well, that turned into quite a rant of my own.

cgustafson said...

I am so sorry about your levy. May there be joyful times with your students in the midst of this discouragement.

When you figure out what's so tasteless about Comic Sans, please let me know. I have always liked it!

Thanks for your comments on mt blog.

Chris Gustafson

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