Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Odd assorted titles

It's almost as if Gary Paulsen were reading my mind. I slogged through The Cookcamp, The Island, and a lot of other lyrically written but ponderously philosophic books and thought "Why not more action?" Well, in The White Fox Chronicles, he gives us plenty of action, but it's not well-written. On the upside, it is an easy read for some of my struggling students, but I wish that we could hvae the nice writing and the adventure. (Basic plot, from the back cover-- "The year is 2057. Endless wars have torn the USA apart and enslaved Americans to the evil Confederation of Consolidated Republics. Growing up in wartime has made Cody wise in survival skills...")

Melody Carlson's Fool's Gold is quite timely-- it discusses shopping addiction, and talks about $200 Prada t shirts and the like. A lot of the "pink" books I have been coming across drop name brands frequently, and they mean little to me and will date the books. Since this is in papreback, I don't feel too bad, and it is a differenet side of the phenomenon.

Will Hobbs' Crossing the Wire is also timely--15-year-old Victor attempts to cross from Mexico into the United States by himself, with the help of a few people he meets along the way. As always, Hobbs researched this well, which lends it a great immediacy. Since I can't get anyone to check out Patricia Beatty's Lupita Manana, this is a good addition to the topic of illegal immigration.

A teacher loaned me Sherman Alexie's The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. I was fully prepared to hate it. The back cover is filled with "Advance praise" which compares the main character to Holden Caulfield (never a good sign), and the author bio described him as "One of the moste well-known and beloved literary writers of his generation". Huh? Never heard of him, but the term "literary" makes me want to grab a stack of BabySitters' Club books and run screaming into the wilderness. The cartoon illustrations didn't help.

However, I liked the book. It was an entertaining story of a young man facing numerous obstacles with good grace. Well-written, quirky, interesting. But I won't buy it. For one, there are a couple of gratuitously crude and offensive remarks (you can do that when you are 'literary'), and it's not the sort of thing that students will ask for. The whole quirk/dysfunctional navel gazing thing. If I had a larger high school collection, I would buy this.

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