Monday, January 02, 2012

Guy Friday-- Guys with Problems

Ellsworth, Loretta. Unforgettable.
Ever since having a concussion as a young child, Baxter Green has been able to remember EVERYTHING. When his mother wants to move from southern California to escape a criminal boyfriend, Baxter nudges her to move to Wellington, Minnestoa, where he remembers Halle, his elementary crush, moved. After Baxter uncharacteristically gets a bad grade on an assignment, Halle is assigned to be his tutor. Only problem-- she doesn't remember him! Baxter settles in to school and his new life with his waitress mother. He flashes back to his therapy sessions with Dr. Anderson, who was trying to help him deal with the weight of remembering every past hurt. He works with Halle and her environmental group to try to stop a local taconite plant from increasing the risk of certain cancers for people in the area. He worries that Dink, the boyfriend, will track him and his mother down, which does happen. Baxter may have an extraordinary ability, but he also manages to have an ordinary, and fairly happy, life. Strengths: Halfway through 8th grade, a lot of my guy readers are looking for more than humor books. They want something with challenges, romance, and some deeper meaning. This will be great for them, and would also be an excellent high school book. I'll also have to take another look at this author's In A Heartbeat, which looks familiar.
Weaknesses: I found it hard to believe that Halle wouldn't remember Baxter, or that she would be mad when she finally did. Of course, I remember people from my kindergarten, but they would probably not remember me!

Polisner, Gae. The Pull of Gravity.
Nick has mulitple problems. After he breaks his leg climbing a small tower during a fever-induced hallucination, his overweight and underemployed father decides to take off, feeling guilty over being asleep when Nick had his accident. He is walking to New York City, where the family had lived previously, in order to lose weight and "find himself". Nick's neighbor and best friend, Scooter, is dying of progeria, which ages him rapidly and causes all sorts of health problems. On the up side, Nick meets Jaycee, the step daughter of a local newscaster who comes to interview the family about the father's walking expedition. She also knows Scooter, and after Scooter's death, shows Nick a first edition book that Scooter wanted returned to the father who left HIM when he was young. Jaycee and Nick set off to Rochester, NY to try to find Scooter's father but encounter multiple problems along the way. In the end, Nick find out that sometimes, the journey is more important than the destination.
Strengths: Fast-paced, a good length, appealing cover, and again, boys like problems at this time of year. Good cover, too.
Weaknesses: Stretched my believability, especially when Jaycee gets very ill in Rochester.

Plum-Ucci, Carol. Following Christopher Creed.
College reported Mike Mavic has been following the disappearance of Christopher Creed and the developments in the case on the blog of a local who was a rock star. When a body is found in Steepleton, Mike and another reporter, RayAnn, he goes to Steepleton to try to get a story. There are lots of wrinkles-- the body ends up being the sister of a boy involved tangentially in the original case, Christopher's brother is thought missing but later turns up in rehab, there is a weird natural phenomenon going on in a local woods that may or may not be contributing to a host of problems, and Mike has to come to terms with his own past as an abused child. Can the case and the problems of the town finally be solved?
Strengths: There is strong interest in the first book, The Body of Christopher Creed (2000), and mysteries are always in demand.
Weaknesses: Several uses of the f-word, and a plot that could have been tighter. At over 400 pages, I don't see this going well with middle school students, but would be okay at high school.

It's a frog-eatin' morning here.* Got in to work at 4:45. Have done the following: E mailed overdues to homerooms and replied to ten emails; set up LCD projector; printed Infohio bookmarks and made copies; repaired ten books; organized Battle of the Books information so someone competent can take over, since I have failed utterly at meeting with the students in the ten minutes every other Friday I don't have class during lunch; compiled a hand out about E Readers and free E Books; put together a handout for Sustained Silent Reading and Writing in case students have two study halls per day next year; reinked a self-inking stamp, mailed payment to Baker and Taylor; commented on five blogs as part of

Mother Reader Comment Challenge

And posted this. Now must get LCD projector to WORK. (Which I had to call tech to do. *Sigh* I'm usually the one coming and fixing things and making other people feel incompetent!)

Have a great Friday and a fabulous weekend!

*"Eat a frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day." In my family, we use this to refer to getting a lot of things done that you DON'T want to do!


Gerb said...

Hey! Karen! *waving* I'm doing the comment challenge as well and saw your link, and thought BONUS! I haven't talked to you for a LONG time. How are you doing? How's the new year treating you? It looks like you're on a roll today. : ) You rock! Catch you later!

Jen Klein said...

"Eat a frog first thing in the morning" is HILARIOUS. Enjoying your blog! Stumbled here from the comment challenge. Looking forward to coming back for more!

Christy Rush-Levine said...

I am a fan of Loretta Ellsworth's book The Shrouding Woman. It is sort of a quiet read (not really a boy book at all), but I remember being surprised at how good it was. I didn't realize she had a new book. I think I am going to be digging through your archives for even more suggestions!

Tara said...

I found your blog through the comment challenge - so glad I did. Thanks for the book suggestions, my sixth graders will thank you, too!

Caryl said...

Checking in here because of the comment challenge, too. I love that you focus on books for boys; I look forward to reading your reviews. And I just had a "frog-eatin' morning," so reading this was perfect timing! Looking forward to a wonderful day now! ;)

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