Thursday, December 11, 2008

Not what students ask for.

Several interesting books, but just not what I need for my library.

Nicholls' Ways to Live Forever was a very effective story of an eleven year old boy dying of leukemia. I cried at the end. However, the book centered more on the boy keeping a journal to try to figure out who he was and to answer imponderable questions. Koss' Side Effects addressed the reality of cancer treatment more clearly, and even that sits on the shelf most of the time.

Scott's Perfect You was realistic and reflects current events--Kate's father quits his job to sell vitamins at a mall, with disastrous effects on the family's budget. Brother is unemployed after college. Mother is stressed. Kate is involved in a less-than-satisfying realtionship. Grandmother nags and spoils. Not a happy read, but not depressing enough to take students' minds off their own lives-- which may be very much like this book.

Julie Halpern's Get Well Soon is based on her own experiences in a mental hospital, but I did not like the characters. Students ask for books like this, but prefer specific problems: McCormick's Cut, Levenkron's The Best Little Girl in the World, Shaw's Black-Eyed Suzie, Neufeld's Lisa Bright and Dark and even Greenberg's 1964 I Never Promised You a Rose Garden all have more compelling characters. (Must have enough on this topic!)

9th grader picked up Rinaldi's The Letter Writer, because she covered Nat Turner's slave rebellion in class, but made the comment "It's not about the rebellion." It centers on the life of a white girl who gets herself tangentially involved with Nat Turner. Interesting depiction of the times, but not what we wanted from the book. One told from Turner's perspective would be better.

Didn't read much of Greene's The Lucky Ones. Famly problems during a summer spent at the beach. Lyrically written, but I no one asks for a story about (subject headings) family life, brothers and sisters, or conduct of life. Am also passing on Conly's Impetuous R., Secret Agent, since no one asks for talking cockroaches saving their jazz nightclub home from financial ruin. This author's continuation of her father's Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH would be a better choice.

You know you'll have to buy it, because you bought the other eight books in this series, but these are becoming completely indistinguishable from one another. The first couple were clever, and it's funny to ask the librarian to say things like Dancing in my Nuddy-Pants, but really, how does Georgia have a life and write in her journal every five minutes? Prefer the Whytock mentioned earlier this month, Cathy Hopkins' Mates Dates series, and anything by Jacqueline Wilson and Cathy Cassidy.


  1. As a librarian, how do you "stay in the loop" regarding new books? I find it hard sometimes (as a teacher) to stay on top of children's and young adult literature, I'm constantly digging for good new books, but it's hard to search in a million places. Are you a big time blog and internet person, or do you have some great resources that you would suggest?

  2. Hi and thanks for the comment on my blog.

    Yes, my students seem to be interested in the "problem" books this year. Many of them are a little more mature than some of my previous groups. I agree with you about the Georgia Nicholson series. My daughter (now a college freshman) was a really diehard fan, but she was quite disappointed in the latest one.

    Most popular with my students this year are - THE HUNGER GAMES, UNWIND, the Percy Jackson series, and the Demonata books by Darren Shan.

    Look forward to reading your book reviews to get new ideas for my classroom.