Monday, November 14, 2016
A Blind Guide to Normal
It's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday at Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe and What Are You Reading? day at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. It's also Nonfiction Monday.
Vrabel, Beth. A Blind Guide to Normal.
October 11th 2016 by Sky Pony Press
Public library copy
Ryder and his mother move in with his paternal grandfather in the D.C. area when his father needs to spend time studying wildlife out west and his mother needs to work in the area. For Ryder, the change involves not only living in his smart aleck grandfather's 1970s shag infested house, but attending a public school instead of a private one. This is difficult because Ryder lost an eye to cancer and has the challenges associated with reduced vision. It doesn't help that Ryder manages to make a really friendly, popular kid, Max, angry on the first day. Max is good friends with Ryder's neighbor, Jocelyn, who tries to help Ryder out. Ryder's mother is buys, and his grandfather is just annoying. He misses his father, as well as his friend Alice (who was the main character in A Blind Guide to Stinkville). Ryder takes up martial arts, learns things about his grandfather, and manages to settle in to life at his new school.
Strengths: I like that this can be read independently of A Blind Guide to Stinkville, and the insights into what it would be like to have survived childhood cancer and to maneuver through the world with impaired vision are interesting and valuable. The tone of this is hopeful despite all of the sadness. There are also some funny moments. Ryder is a sympathetic character, and I enjoyed his grandfather, too-- signing Ryder up for Quilting was an inspired, if slightly evil, move.
Mr. Buxton also really liked this one, and donated his copy to our school library!
Weaknesses: Could have done without so much information about Ryder's grandfather's grief over his wife's death when Ryder's father was born, and also Jocelyn and Max's grief and guilt over the death of her brother. Without that, the book would have been absolutely fantastic.
What I really think: Will buy a copy even though the first book doesn't circulate much. The author's note about why she wrote these is touching, her research is good, and these books fill a gap in middle grade literature.