Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A Strange Selection

The only book of note that I read was Anthony Horowitz's 1994 Granny, which was a bizarre but intriguing book. Joe lives with his vain and uninvolved parents. Life with them is difficult enough, but when they decide to travel and leave him with his grandmother, things get worse. Not only is granny evil, ugly, and malevolent, she wants to convert Joe into enzymes to keep her young. Over the top in a Roald Dahl sort of way, students will find this amusing. It's only available in paperback. Unfortunately, I read this after the Horowitz biography in which it was stated that Horowitz's real grandmother was a very awful person, so it made me sad.

Heather Vogel Fredericks' Spy Mice: For Your Paws Only was amusing, but is more of a younger book. I thought the mice were clever, but my students want more realism in their spy books. Did like that the threat in this book was that the rats were learning to read! Might be a fun read aloud in elementary school.

John Lekich's King of the Lost and Found had such a cool cover that I had to read it, but it was overly depressing for middle school. By high school, kids want more detail, but middle school students want something to happen. After about 50 pages, I was still waiting to emerge from the descriptions of Raymond's medical and personal foibles. Of note: had this copy sent through interlibrary loan, and it came from the Boardman Branch of the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County, the same branch I went to growing up. (Well, the actual building is now a dentist's office. They waited until I graduated to build right across from the high school. Drat!)

I include the cover of Jane Wagner's J.T., just in case anyone still has a copy. The original publication date was 1969, and it was first a song, then a television special, then a book with photoillustrations. Came across it in my march through the alphabet, and checked it out to a student who was very confused by it. I was, too. The story of an inner city child who adopts a homeless cat was very sad, but there seem to be a lot of details that didn't make the translation to book form. It felt horribly dated as well, and since the pages in my copy are falling out, this one may go away. Surprised it lasted this long, but it is still in print.
No longer in print is Jan Van Leeuwen's Dear Mom, You're Ruining My Life (1989). There's nothing wrong with this book of anecdotes following 6th grader Sam as she maneuvers her way through middle school with the help of her mother, but it felt a bit uninspired. I don't have sixth graders who are that interested in losing their molars, and they certainly don't write letters to the tooth fairy. The potrayal of the mother as a housewife who writes also seems dated. Of course, the Accelerated Reader level is an astonishing 6.0 (Asimov's I, Robot is 6.1) so I may keep it. Sigh.

1 comment:

  1. unrelated to this post, but have you seen this? I think I get so few books I'm just going to ignore it, but come on, good grief! First we can't put the ARCs on the shelf, now we have to declare as income books we get? Puh-leez. It's enough to make you want to stop doing it!