Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Long weekend of reading.......get set.....here we go!

I hadn't read this book in awhile, and am so glad I went back and re-read it.  Tony is an artist, in middle school who hears his art teacher talk about how classic artists have always worked on perfecting the art of the female form.  Since his mother works as an exotic dancer, he (with their permission) decides to draw the dancers in their various stages of undress.....he does this as an artistic exercise, not as a "ooooo...naked ladies" pre-pubescent boy scenario.  When he submits his art, he ends up sparking a huge controversy that sends his family (his mother and himself) to court fighting charges.  Paulsen tackles a controversial subject with humor and tact and I lovedlovedloved reading it.

Looks like a Paulsen marathon (with one more to go) but it is precisely because these books are brief that they are perfect for reluctant readers.  In Lawn Boy, a young man gets a riding tractor from his grandmother who has no use for it (legacy of his very handy grandfather who has passed away).  He inadvertantly finds himself as the sole groundskeeper for many of his neighbors, and one thing after another, a full-blown landscaping business at the age of 12.  I love how Paulsen introduces economics into this fun, quick tale...he also inserts a bit of realistic mythology...how you too can make it rich in no time at all.....love it!

Duane Homer Leech is a horrible name, as he himself admits.  It is especially horrible when you also inadvertently end up with the nickname of "Doo-Doo"  This quick read is   in diary format and is in first person.  Paulsen introduces the awkwardness of puberty with truly LOL moments.  This is a great read for either gender, but should find resonance especially with young boys.

Watching Jimmy is the story of Carolyn, who lives in the 50s, and next door to Jimmy.  He has suffers a traumatic brain injury, and everyone has been told it was a playground accident.  Carolyn is the sole witness to the lie, which is that Jimmy was abused and horribly injured.  She struggles with this lie, as well as with how to protect her good friend Jimmy in an era when reporting abuse isn't easy.  This is a quick but tough read, and though it's set in Canada, it will find resonance with anyone who has seen or heard of abuse.

Ali is watching her young cousin this summer in Maine.  Emma is 5 and as sweet as can be, so what can go wrong?  Then Sissy shows up, and suddenly everything is chaos....Emma's turning into a brat (just like Sissy) and Ali keeps getting into trouble (usually for Emma's behavior) and her aunt is acting really weird.  Could it all be connected to the mysterious happenings of her mom and aunt when they were young?  What DID happen here? Who is Sissy?  This creepy ghost story is just scary enough, and just creepy enough.......love it!

This is one that I had always meant to read....and somehow never did, though I did read the sequel.  Misfits is wonderful, touching off emotions of what it's like to suffer verbal bullying at any age, but especially in middle school.  I will be talking this story up for quite awhile and feel badly it took me this long to get around to reading it.
The characters and scenarios feel so real, I think everyone knows someone like one of these kids....or was one......read this!

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