Friday, January 28, 2011

Guy Friday- Paul Zindel

I am finally up to the Z's in reading my way through the library and thought that Paul Zindel (1936-2003) would make a good subject for Guy Friday.

Language Arts teachers love The Pigman, and Zindel was a well-respected and much lauded writer for his plays, such as The Effects of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds. My Darling, My Hamburger was supposedly very racy and cutting edge, and since I can't remember it, that may well be what I read tonight.

In my library, however, Mr. Zindel is read for his bunch of monster horror books, which I usually list in one breath as RatsRaptorReefofDeathDoomstoneLochNightoftheBat. I'd never read one all the way through, since Reef of Death was just too scary for me. That's all I had to say to students and they would pick it up! The only downside to these titles is that many of them are, sadly, out of print.

Zindel, Paul. Rats.
Sarah and her brother Michael live on Staten Island near a huge landfill, where their father works. Their mother was killed in a car accident, so they often have to take care of themselves and their pet rat, Surfer. When mutant rats escape the landfill and start coming up through people's toilets and threatening any human they find, the children and their pet must try to stay safe and save the area from these vicious rodents.

Strengths: Nonstop action and lots of gore. Usually, the people killed are the more unsavory characters in the book, but this is very graphic. My boys love these.

Weaknesses: The gore. A Begonia for Miss Applebaum this is not!

Zindel, Paul. Raptor.
Zack's father is a paleontologist working in the Southwest. He is brutally injured in an accident that is assumed to be a landslide but is in fact a raptor attack. Zack tries to find out more about what happened to his father and finds a raptor egg that hatches. The trouble begins when the raptor mommy comes looking for her baby, which Zack doesn't want to give up, since he thinks it will help his father become famous. Another paleontologist has the same idea, so Zack and his friend Uta must try to protect the raptor baby while keeping the area safe from the adult raptors.

Strengths: Again, fast-paced, with a nice sense of place. I also enjoyed how the girls in both books have strong roles in saving the world, something I never would have guessed was in the books.

Weaknesses: Again, the gore. Yuck!

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