Wednesday, March 11, 2009

New Order of Books!!!

While I TRY to read everything before buying it, I do take some chances with trusted authors, and often buy sports or war books without reading because of demand. This order, it was baseball books that I needed.

The Panthers have a problem-- Gig's sister Sydney is playing on their baseball team. But in the waning days of 5th grade, the team members also have individual problems-- Gig's dad is shipping off to the Middle East, Diego has to work every weekend with his family, Isaac's parents are pressuring him to go to another middle school, and Jackson's divorced mother is starting to date.
Luckily, in between playing baseball, the Panthers are able to help each other out. John Coy's Top of the Order is a nicely done, humorous middle grade novel reminiscent of Rich Wallace's Winning Season series. I hope to see a lot more by this author.

Gene Feller's Beanball is a "novel in verse" I'm very picky about these; Helen Frost is the only author who, in my opinion, actually writes in poetic forms. Everyone else just uses short lines of cut up prose. That said, the STORY of this book is well done and intriguing, and this will be useful when the 8th grade does their poetry unit. Luke "Wizard" Wallace is hit in the face with a baseball, causing grave injuries. From the point of view of 28 different characters, the story of the accident, Luke's recovery, and the ensuing implications for everyone are explained. I've not seen anything else by Feller but am now intrigued.

The Kind of Friends We Used to Be, Frances O'Roark Dowell's sequel to The Secret Language of Girls, does not have much of a plot. It doesn't need it. Continuing the story of a group of middle school friends, this is a novel about seeking personal identity and one's place in the world. Kate wants to be a guitarist. Heavy leather boots and involvement in the school writing club are essential. Marylin thinks she wants to be a popular cheerleader, but she also wants to be involved in school government. They want to remain friends, but it's difficult to do when they are trying so hard to be such different people. It's this journey that makes this story line popular with my students.

Sharon Draper's Sassy: Little Sister is Not My Name is a little young for middle school (Sassy is 9), but Draper is tremendously popular with my students and this is the novel I have been begging for: a book about a suburban African American girl that does not concern itself solely with the fact that she is African American. Instead, it deals with her family, including a grandmother who is a professional story teller, her friends, and her school. Sassy gets a chance to solve a lot of emergencies with her sparkly purse, and saves her family when they are stuck in an elevator. A must for elementary schools, but should do well here, too.

Finally, my 8th graders will love Walter Dean Myer's Dope Sick. Lil J is on the run. He and Rico were involved in a drug deal that went bad, and a cop got shot. Lil J finds Kelly in an abandoned apartment, and starts to analyze how his life has gone wrong and got to this point. Lil J's mother is ill and alcoholic, his girlfriend and mother of his child, Lauryn, doesn't approve of his drug using. Things are all piling up against him-- although bright, he's not doing well in school, and there is no help. This book was a little confusing. Was Kelly real? Did he have supernatural powers that allow Lil J to watch his life on television? The constant shift back in forth in time was a bit hard to follow, but I don't think this will bother the students. Warning: One f-bomb on page 160. Other than that, clean for the subject matter and a good addition if your students constantly ask for books about drug abuse.

There are a few more from this order that I need to read, and I've also been working my way throgh The Once and Future King for almost a week. It's good, but very dense, and I've had to look up about two dozen words so far!

1 comment:

  1. I got to meet Sharon Draper at the end of February, and she read a part from Sassy. It sounds like an awesome book, and I WANT HER SPARKLY PURPLE BAG! :)