Thursday, April 29, 2010

Freak The Mighty

Freak the Mighty

by Rodman Philbrick  (1993)

This is another one of those books Son #2 has been recommending for several years.  He started reading it to #3 in the truck when we ran errands.  I really liked the "Live Audiobook" version, but we got home at a good part and I couldn't lock the boys in the car until they finished reading, so I finished it up myself.

Outcasts, one huge/quiet/parentally challenged (one dead, one in prison) and one small/loud/obsessed with quests, find each other and form a bond against bullies and criminals.  It's a sad story...

oops, powers running out.

Just asking, but which came first -- this book or John Irving's Prayer for Owen Meany?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

How To Eat Fried Worms

How To Eat Fried Worms

by Thomas Rockwell (1973)

My stomach is still queasily squiggling just writing about it...

The classic boy bets boy, boy goes through with disgusting, humiliating bet, boys fight, boys learn valuable life lessons.

Monday, April 12, 2010



by Jerry Spinelli (1996)

Middle-school football star/bully learns what's really important in life.

Being in sports, and being a guy, all my life I can definitely recognize "Crash" Coogan and his alpha male jock friends.  Now as a coach and parent I see how we reinforce the ego-driven outlook the physically talented are taught to have from an early age.  It's almost natural, probably part of a deeper, hunter/warrior society-centered instinct to praise and follow the one who can knock over the most mastadons.  The first students that get noticed are usually the bigger and faster kids on the playground.

This story follows a star athlete as his family and neighbor/classmate get him to think about other things in life than himself and being popular (pacifism, nature, death); I wish there would have been more to the book at the "end" of his story, his conversion to a nice guy was wrapped up all too quick.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Things Not Seen

Things Not Seen

by Andrew Clements (2002)

Boy wakes up invisible.  Boy does not use invisibility to play pranks or visit the girls' locker room.  Boy meets girl. Boy and girl work together to solve his failure to be visible.  Boy's parents almost go to jail for losing son. Boy learns to appreciate life and the ability to wear clothes.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Crushing on Miss Hickory

... that is, until she had her head eaten and, while it was being eaten, she "went right on thinking... aloud!!!" *

Miss Hickory

Carolyn Sherwin Baily

Newbery Medal 1947

Interesting book, at times a cute anthropomorphic nature/animal story, then a lesson on manners, with a Christmas mystery/miracle tossed in.  And through it all is sweet little Miss Hickory, a twig lady with a nut head, learning to live on her own one winter.  She's sassy, bossy, a touch grumpy, but cuts a fine figure in both fall and spring colors!  She meets a surprising and grisly end at the hands of a hungry squirrel, but lives on after joining her headless self to an apple tree... (yes, you read that right).  She is selfish and hard on her friends in the forest, but has a happy ending reincarnated (?) as an apple branch.

I liked it as a funny book, interesting to read in regards to the seasons changing or when studying apple trees?

*I'm quite sure this violates goes against my Violence Boycott!

connections: The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, The Bubble

R-T, Margaret, and the Rats of NIMH

R-T, Margaret, and the Rats of NIHM

by Jane Leslie Conly (1990)

No wonder I couldn't find any sequels to Mrs. Frisby... on the "O" shelf: the next two books were written by Robert O'Brien's daughter.  Not sure why after a Newbery winning book and successful (albeit altered) Disney movie he didn't write more himself?

While not as charming as the original, this book uses many familiar characters and situations, while focusing mainly on the human aspect: grouchy, lazy, overweight Margaret and her troubled little brother are lost in the woods, found and helped by the super-smart talking rats.  With multiple references to pop culture it's a bit dated, and after the kids leave the rodents (why did the rats let them stay all summer?) and have to deal with family and reporters it's not as interesting, but still a good story for lessons on dealing with adversity, peer pressure, helping others, ethical dilemmas...

Ramona and Her Father

Ramona and Her Father

by Beverly Clearly (1975)

A little more serious than the other Cleary books I picked up -- unemployment, nicotine addiction, abandonment issues, engine trouble... but still sweet, still humorous.  The focus is on Ramona and daily life dealing with her father losing his job and trying to quit smoking, with the strong family bond and balance of relationships throughout.



by Beverly Cleary  (1964)

The adventures of Henry Huggins' dog, the charming, playful, and loyal Ribsy.  Lost at a shopping mall then captured by girls that bathe him in violet shampoo, Ribsy makes his way across town searching for his boy, making friends and having small adventures along the way.

Good read aloud book, chapters stand on their own with many ups and downs to keep things interesting.