Wednesday, October 16, 2019

#WNDB- Bouncing Back and Look Both Ways

Ostler, Scott. Bouncing Back
October 8th 2019 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Carlos Cooper "the Hooper" is in a wheelchair after an accident that claimed the lives of both his parents. He is fortunate that his very supportive Aunt Rosie and Uncle Augie have stepped in to raise him, even if it means moving several hours away from his old friends. Wanting to get Carlos interested in something, his aunt and uncle have him go to the Buccaneers wheel chair basketball practice. It seems like an impossible task, especially since the coach, Trooper, doesn't cut the athletes any slack just because they are in wheelchairs. Luckily, the team is supportive and know from experience how hard it is to start, and James gives him a lot of support, as does Mia. The group plays in a run down building called the "Rat Palace" that was built in the 1950s and has fallen on hard times. That's not as big a problem as is Stomper, a kid at school who menaces other kids, including Carlos. Carlos stands up to him, and when his Aunt Rosie tells him that Roland is having a hard time, Carlos does try to make peace with the bully. The two have a tentative peace, which is tested when the Rat Palace faces demolition, in part at the hands of Roland's father. Carlos helps Roland make the basketball team, and Roland, who is given a hard time by his father, helps the Carlos' team (rechristened the "Rollin' Rats") find a way to save their gym. City government corruption must be outed, and Carlos has help from a law student at a local doughnut shop as well as a cub reporter from the local paper who is very interested in the research Carlos has done into the history of the building. When Carlos' uncle's job at the Parks Department is in jeopardy because of Carlos' actions, he tries to step away from the team effort to save the building. At the same time, the team does very well and is off to a big tournament, where Carlos is able to reconnect with a friend from his own team. How will Carlos deal with these important distractions as well as his new life with his aunt and uncle?
Strengths: The treatment of grief and moving forward in this book is so well done. Yes, Carlos is dealing with horrible, overwhelming loss, but he also knows that he is lucky to have his aunt and uncle. There is talk of being in counseling, and the aunt and uncle are supportive but not enabling. Add to that the fact that Carlos' trauma is not the whole story, and that's what makes this especially good. The kids have to band together to save the gym from evil developers and city govvernment while playing basketball. Yes! It is possible to have serious issues in a book that is hopeful and interesting and not soggily sad.
Weaknesses: The story arc with Stomper/Roland starts out a bit cliched, but redeems itself.
What I really think: Definitely purchasing, so that now I will have two wheelchair basketball books; this, and Eric Walter's Rebound(2000).

  Reynolds, Jason. Look Both Ways
October 8th 2019 by Atheneum
E ARC from Netgalley

This collection of loosely connected short stories features characters in an inner city setting who face a variety of problems. Jasmine has sickle cell anemia and has been out of school for a month, and her parents are also divorcing. Another group of children steal pocket change because they each have a parent with cancer and are in the free lunch program. All of the stories are set in school and on the way home.

I find it very difficult to review short story collections-- do I review each story, or just give general impressions of the collection as a whole? Also, my students are generally not fans of short stories-- when I inherited my school collection, there were six shelves of "Story Collections" that never got checked out, with the exception of scary short stories like Alvin Schwartz's. Reynolds is one of the more literary middle grade writers working today, so I'm sure in ten years we will see these stories pop up in literature textbooks, and they might be interesting to use in the classroom. I was just left wanting more-- what was the character's back story? What happened to them afterwards? The only Reynolds' books that do well in my library are the Track books, but will probably purchase.

Why I don't spend time on Twitter: An author retweeted something about how expensive and hard to take care of women's clothing is, and there were a thousand comments on everything from drying things flat to paying more to have things ironed. (Is this a thing? Someone will iron my shirts? How is this even possible?)

So, my outfit today: polyester skirt circa 1980 that even has pockets, a Lands End wrinkle free shirt that was $3 several years ago, and an L.L. Bean cotton sweater that was $1 and ended up being too small for the friend for whom I bought it. I did wash it and dry it flat because occasionally thrift store things smell like... the thrift store.

I have to admit that I never get things dry cleaned, and I wear a LOT Of wool in the winter. When I get home from work, I always air things out, Febreeze if necessary, and sponge cuffs and hems and brush garments before putting them away. I wear plenty of underpinings, so there is always a washable layer between me and the wool.

Just don't buy the clothes that don't meet specifications. There's always Lands End, which isn't as expensive as some things even when the items are new!

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