Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Lupica, Garsee, Buckley, and some whining

Mike Lupica's Million-Dollar Throw was such a great book that one of my students approached me with this offer-- if I would write the Accelerated Reader test for this book, he would donate the copy he bought to the library! Admittedly, I've been buying football books without reading them, so I had to catch up. Nate's family is struggling, but he saves enough to buy a football signed by his idol, Tom Brady. Because of this purchase, he signs up for a drawing to throw at a target during a Patriots game and win a million dollars. Of course, his name is chosen. This has an odd effect on his game, however-- he starts to mess up. This lack of focus could also be blamed on the fact that his best friend Abby is going blind and may be sent off to school, or the fact that his father and mother are working two jobs to make ends meet. While there is lots of football, there are enough other issues that I was interested. Good characters in interesting situations. See-- a book like THIS should win the Newbury. The only bad things-- the title screams Dan Gutman, and the cover screams Tim Green. This will lead to some confusion, which is too bad.

I knew that Jeannine Garsee's second book, Say the Word, would be more of a high school book, but I had to read it anyway, since her Before, After and Somebody In Between was so good. Shawna has been estranged from her mother ever since her mother left her family to live in New York with Fran. When her mother has a stroke, it's difficult for Shawna to deal with not only her death, but with her father's anger, the complicated legal situation with Fran, and the people at school who assume that Shawna must be a lesbian like her mother. Add to the mix that Shawna is drawn to Fran's children, who knew more about her mother than she did, that Shawna's best friend is gay, and that there are lots of family secrets (that I don't want to spoil), and this is an intriguing book. Every time I would come to a scene with alcohol or sex, or the f-word, I would think "I can stop reading now. This is a book for high school", but then a twist would make me read more! I gave this book to my 16-year-old to read, but won't be purchasing for school. Drat.

Wanted to like Michael Buckley's N.E.R.D.S.: National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society because I loved The Sisters Grimm, but I was not feeling it. Maybe it was the cartoon illustrations or the whole Cartoon Network feel. (My children didn't watch many cartoons because I really think they lead to seizures... in the adults who have to watch them!) In theory, this is everything I want: kids out to save the world with their super-geek powers. Maybe it was too geeky: a character whose headgear attracts metal to it magnetically is a bit over-the-top. I'm going to keep this on my desk to wave at children and see what they think. It might just be more of an elementary book. Usually, when I don't get something (Wimpy Kid), this is the problem.

Also a problem: I only have $600 left to buy books for this year, so this makes me pickier than usual. My strategy was to spend most of my budget before our levy, just in case, but this now leaves me a bit short.

However, I have also started on a massive weeding plan. The architects' revised plans are much more to our liking (Except the three foot tall shelves. I would live on my knees.), and the realization hit me that I need to pack all 12,700 books into boxes this summer. Do I really want to pack up Quaaludes: The Quest for Oblivion (1985), store it, then put it back on the shelves? Or environmental books from 1978? Or any animal book titled The Wonders of Woodchucks? It is so hard to weed, but if the book appears on the great blog, Awful Library Books, it has to go!


  1. Three foot tall shelves? You did tell them no, right? Ask them to go shelve books in the picture book room at the library, please. Seriously. Make them do it immediately. And those are 4' shelves, I think.

    How about 5' shelves? At least then you and I can both see over them ;-)

  2. We haven't got the new Lupica yet but we need it very much! I've seen a lot of differing reviews on NERDS - now, see, I didn't really like Sisters Grimm but I loved NERDS. It's got guinea pigs in it! Heh heh heh. I think you're right that's it's for a bit younger group than middle school though. Good luck on your weeding - I did the juvenile fiction, non-fiction, and young adult areas this past summer and am now dreaming about mis-shelved nonfiction from the 80s...

  3. I read several John Feinstein sports books recently. He mentions Mike Lupica once. Did you know he's a sports reporter, too? Would recommend the Feinstein books, but not the audio. Author reads, and although he's a great radio personality and a good sports fiction writer, he's not a good reader!

    Do not envy your weeding/packing predicament. I heard about a librarian who enlisted Boy Scout troops to help pack and move. Might be an idea. Did your levy pass?

    Happy Thanksgiving.

  4. I liked NERDS a whole lot but it is definitely too young for your middle schoolers. Michael Buckley wrote for TV cartoons before writing books and NERDS seems like a Nickelodeon special--which is fine if you're in elementary school (or mentally 10-years old like me!) but middle schoolers wouldn't go for it.

  5. Thanks so much for your review and I'm glad you enjoyed Shawna's story. :)