Mitchell, Don. Driven: A Photobiography of Henry Ford
Confession: I love biographies, but, like my students, I have found even some of the 100 page biographies a bit lengthy recently. I was so impressed with Driven that I am going to try to get as many of the books in this series as I can afford. The reason? There's just enough information to make me feel like I have a good understanding of the person and his contributions to society without cluttering up the book with extraneous information. The pictures help me connect with the person and the time, and the coverage of Ford's successes and personal foibles is well balanced. I have tried for years to get students to pick up biographies for fun, and not had much success. With this book, the print is nice and large, pictures are well spread out, and the narrative style is very breezy fun. I want the Albert Einstein, Dian Fossey, Nellie Bly and John Glenn ones right now! I think that these will be easy to get into the hands of students.
Peirce, Lincoln. Big Nate Flips Out.
5 February 2013, HarperCollins
By book #5 in a series, it's really hard for me to give a full review. In short, Nate has a fight with his friend Francis, mainly because Nate is so messy that the school camera, checked out by Francis but in Nate's possession, goes missing. Nate gets hypnotized into being neat, which is good in some respects but just not Nate. While I had trouble believing the drama surrounding the school yearbook (our middle school doesn't even have students work on ours), I always love to see what Nate is up to, and these go down smoothly. This will be very popular, and wear out unfortunately quickly.
Russell, Rachel Renee. Tales from a Not-So-Happy Heartbreaker
4 June 2013, Simon and Schuster
This is book #6 in the series. There was an interesting interview with the author on NPR, which can be read here.
I ordered two copies of this book, have all manner of copies of the others in the series, and occasionally hand them to students. I'm not a literature snob. I'm all for children reading what they like. But this latest book had disturbing overtones of desperate females in midcentury teen lit, and rather bothered me. Nikki's entire self worth seems to be tied up in whether or not Brandon will call her, and she strikes me as almost as mean as her nemesis, Mackenzie. Reading the interview with Ms. Russell, I wanted to like this book more than I did, but it didn't seem to reflect what she set out to write, so I was just confused. The beginning scenes, with Nikki waiting for Brandon to phone or text, had shades of Dorothy Parker's A Telephone Call . That short story was published in 1930. Surely, girls and women have evolved since then, right?
Maybe I just got this one on a bad day.