Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Teflon Effect

Sometimes, I read a book, and my eyes start at the top of the page and then are suddenly on the bottom, having stuck to none of the words. The worst culprit of this was Terry Brooks Shanara series. Too high a fantasy for me. I won't claim I read them all, but I did turn every page.

This often happens to students, too, and when it does, you can imagine what it does to their comprehension. There needs to be some action on the page, something that captures their attention. This is why navel-gazing quirky dysfunctional award winners are not sought out by my students.

That said, I think that Jerry Spinelli's latest effort, Eggs, will win many awards because it is a finely crafted, introspective tale about a boy who is being raised by his grandmother because his mother has died, and a girl named Primrose who lives with her pychic consultant mother. And they... and that's where I lost interest. I did like the cover a lot, but the students I waved it at during the day were not intrigued. They thought it was going to be nonfiction. About eggs. Not a selling point.

I've been reading a fair amount of Ann Rinaldi lately, and really liking it, which is why I was so surprised to be disappointed by Come Juneteenth.There is a warning box on the back cover that states "WARNING: This is a historical novel. Read at your own risk. The writer feels it necessary to alert you to the fact that you might enjoy it." This is akin to the eye doctor telling my child that she was AFRAID my daughter would need glasses. No. You GET to wear glasses, and there is nothing wrong with historical novels. You get to find out that people are people no matter when they live, and you get to learn cool stuff about history. The biggest problem with this book was that I couldn't connect to the characters, which made me feel bad when I read the notes at the end where Ms. Rinaldi said that she liked these characters best of the one's about which she has written. Perhaps that was the problem. They were too real to her and therefore hard to capture on the page.

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