Sunday, January 29, 2012

Marvelous Middle Grade Nonfiction Guy Monday!

Whew! February is going to be a busy month here! The most important event is the Third Annual Boys Read Pink month! This year, Charlie Joe Jackson, of Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to Not Reading, is joining us because of his declaration on page 123: " If you have to read, read about girls. It helps you understand them better." This was my point when I set out to challenge boys to read books with girls on the covers. Most of the time, when I hand boys books with girls on the cover, they wrinkle their noses, but when I tell them that EVERYONE is reading them, they are okay with it. Even before the month has started, I've had about 15 boys check out "girl" books. Of course, Charlie Joe himself is so popular that I just ordered three more copies!

In addition to Boys Reading Pink , it's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday, which is hosted over at Shannon Whitney Messenger's blog and The Nonfiction Monday round up is at Wendie's Wanderings this week. I encourage you to click through and visit some of these sites-- I always find great book suggestions and often other helpful blogs through both of these round ups.

Berk, Josh. Guy Langman, Crime Scene Procrastinator.
E ARC from Netgalley. Publication March 2012
When Guy's father dies and his best friend Anoop tries to get him to join the school Forensics Squad, he thinks "Why not?", especially when he realizes that Raquel, whom he rather likes, is joining. The teacher in charge, Mr. Zant, is not always amused by Guy's tomfoolery, but is very excited about forensic science, and the group learns about fingerprinting and lots of other ways to evaluate crimes scenes. This comes in handy when someone breaks into Guy's attic and steals valuable coins, and later, when the Forensics Squad finds an actual dead body on the golf course where they are having a competition with another school. Guy has recently found that he has a half brother whom he has never met, and gets it into his head that this is the person who stole the coins (he knew their value) and killed the teenager (who looks vaguely like Guy). Tracking his brother down in the city, Guy realizes that he was not the person responsible for either crime, and using his fingerprinting skills, he locates the perpetrator of the theft, even after the "murder" turns out to be a suicide. Along the way, Guy realizes that Raquel is not nearly as intriguing as Maureen, that his father was an interesting if flawed man, and that the world is a complicated but ultimately enjoyable place.
Strengths: Funny, funny writing! Berk has the same sort of knack that Jordan Sonnenblick has for taking an essentially sad story and making me laugh. My favorite line: "Nuttier than a squirrel turd."
Weaknesses: F-bomb on page 211. *Sigh* This was coming very close to the high school line with the sexual innuendo and general language, but it was a good murder mystery AND was funny, so I have to think about this one.

Sutherland, Adam. Police Forensics.
E ARC from Netgalley. Lerner Publications, 2012.
Forensic science is discussed in very short, almost Twitter-like snippets in this well illustrated nonfiction title. The books starts with a variety of forensic terms, then talks about gear, different types of tests investigators use, famous crimes, and has interviews with forensic scientists. This is a good book for browsing in order to get a few interesting facts, but might be difficult to use to do, say, a research project describing the job of a forensic investigator. This is certainly a topic of interest to my students, and the bright colors and brief information will make this a popular book.

The Guys Read Pink suggestions for today: Both Alane Ferguson's The Christopher Killer and Walter Sorrell's Fake ID have girls on the cover.


  1. Good ol' Charlie Joe. My boys ate up that book!

  2. My 7th grade son recommended Gephart's _As If Being 12 3/4 Isn't Bad Enough, My Mother Is Running For President_, which has a girly looking girl on the cover. He enjoyed the peep inside a girl's brain, along with the subplot about possible assassination attempts.

    I should have kept this book from him for two more days!

  3. I love the idea of "Boys Read Pink" Maybe we should print out some fake dust covers with tanks and spaceships on them so boys can wrap THE PRINCESS DIARIES etc in them.

  4. Oh wow, lots and lots of books here! All unfamiliar to me, I'm afraid. I'm glad you introduced these titles to me, thanks for sharing. And yes boys should definitely read PINK! :)

  5. Anonymous9:33 PM EST

    I _really_ need to read Charlie Joe's book.

  6. Anonymous8:00 AM EST

    You know (saw your post on kidlitosphere!) I forgot to say that I love this initiative. Oh how I wish I still had my book club (there were about 6 boys who came!). Will be sure to pass this along to the person who took my place and start thinking on my own recommends for the blog.

  7. LOVE your Boys Read Pink program! I might have to copy it.