Friday, October 05, 2012

Guy Friday--More monsters

Skye, Obert. Potterwookie. (Creature from My Closet #2)

18 September 2012

Rob's closet from Wonkenstein is back, and this time it has disgorged a smelly combination of Harry Potter and Chewbacca, which Rob calls Hairy. Apparently, a chemistry set left too long in the closet bonded in a weird and mystical way with some books stored there, helped along by a heavy new closet door with a creepy guy on the doorknob. Once again, the creature gets Rob in trouble as he and his friends go about their daily lives, which include a lot of annoying school bullies and annoying siblings. The parents are also kind of quirky.Rob tries to get onto a cooking show, which is disastrous, and Hairy helps out a little bit.
Strengths: This will never be on the shelf. I am amazed by the number of 6th graders who will ONLY read books with pictures. This limits their choices a lot, but this is at least something other than reading Wimpy Kid for the 47th time.
Weaknesses: Not my cup of tea. One of those guy things I don't understand.

Shan, Darren. Zom-B
27 September 2012, ARC from Little, Brown.

B lives with an abusive father who holds violently anti-immigrant views, and a cowering mother. When the news shows clips of an Irish town being attacked by zombies, people in London are concerned, but many more think it is a hoax. B goes to an inner city school where (like in Kevin Brooks iBoy), academics take a back seat to gang violence and general thuggery, and frequently gets in trouble for fighting, especially with Taylor, who is black. Even though B's best friend Vinyl is black, and B knows that the prejudiced views held by the father's groups are wrong, it's still hard to get along with the immigrant students in school. B does save an immigrant baby from mutants with yellow eyes, and has to deal briefly with the notoriety (and father's disapproval) for that, but when zombies attack the school, that is less of an issue. This is the first book in a series that promises to be ridiculously popular with my students. The front of the ARC has a note from Mr. Shan begging reviewers not to give away the big twists in the book-- I hope I suceeded, because they are BIG twists!
Strengths: Wow. If any zombie book ever won the Newbery, this would be it. It is brilliant how Shan works in the story about prejudice into extreme zombie gore and violence. Even though the vast majority of the story is really about prejudice, Shan knows just when to throw in ....yech, can't even really repeat the graphic, eyeball crunching gore that the zombie scenes include. Zombies eat lots of brains, and if this is going to bother you, don't read the book.
Weaknesses: Extreme zombie gore and violence. I view violence in the same way that I viewed weaponry with my children when they were young. Nothing modern and realistic-- only historical weapons (swords) or futuristic ones (ray guns and light sabers). If the violence is perpetrated by creatures that are not real, I'm much better with it. Human against human violence for thrills is not something I can tolerate.

And yet, that's what so many of my students want to read. At least they get a lesson along with the violence in this book.

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