Thursday, June 07, 2007

Sports and History

Our 8th graders just finished up a historical fiction project, and I've helped so many of them with it that it took a bit out of Ann Rinaldi's The Color of Fire. THere are always lots of facts in Rinaldi's books, but they kept distracting me. "Oh, the War of Jenkins' Ear. True or false?" (The students had to find information in the books and then check out the veracity of it.) An odd historical setting (slavery in New York in 1741) didn't help, nor did the fact that I thought the Quilt Trilogy, Wolf by the Ears, Or Give Me Death, and Sarah's Ground were utterly brilliant. This was good, but I was expecting more.

If Jeff Rud wrote 70 more books like In the Paint, I would buy them ALL.This was perfect for the boys who like sports. Lots of play-by-play sports, a simple but important personal message, and clear, direct writing made this very enjoyable. Having made the basketball team, Matt is thrilled, even though two of his good friends don't. One night, hanging out with a team mate, he participates in an unfortunate activity. Struggling with what to do when he doesn't get caught, Matt consults his brother and friend, and makes a good choice. Still, this has some negative effects on the team and his personal safety. Almost preachy but never quite going too far, this is just an all around excellent book. The small size is nice-- it is deceptively long. My only problem was that Orca books must publish paperbacks only, and the hard binding on this has made the margins really small. Still, I just placed High and Inside and First and Ten (both in the South Side Sports series) on my list to purchase in the fall.

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