Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Mishmash, Part II

Don’t Call Me Ishmael (chosen for Not-So-Random Shelf: Young Adult Fiction)

Don't Call Me Ishmael is a funny and realistic look at middle school life. Ishmael LeSeur has to put up with the indignities of middle school life, which chiefly involve a bully and his pals making fun of his name. Enter James Scobie, the new boy in town. James tells his fellow classmates that his sense of fear was removed when he had an operation. Strangely enough, this seems to be true, as James exhibits no fear toward the bullies. Ishmael gets involved in the new debate club, thanks to James, but only as the team researcher. When he is unexpectedly called to debate, disaster strikes. A crush on a member of a rival school's debate team is funny and charming. This is an honest and comic read.

Heat (chosen for Not-So-Random Shelf: Young Adult Fiction)

Bonnie is a champion diver with high hopes for her diving career. When an accident jeopardizes her diving career, she is understandably despondent. Further complications come in when her father is jailed for fraud. Bonnie's sense of depression and anger at the upheavals are believable and realistic. I found myself thinking of Shark Girl, which dealt brilliantly with the impact of a devastating accident on a promising young athlete (on a more grander scale).

Dear Max (chosen for Not-So-Random Shelf: Easy Chapter Book)

Through a series of letters and illustrations, Max and his favorite author exchange news of the day, encouragement, and writing tips. Max confides several things to his pen pal, including his worries over his upcoming operation. There's not much drama or action in the book, but it's a sweet portrayal of a friendship across generations. Yes, it does sound like Dear Mr. Henshaw, but this one is much lighter (and D.J. Lucas is not as...unusual as Mr. Henshaw).

Home of the Brave (chosen for Not-So-Random Shelf: Chapter Book)

Home of the Brave is a captivating story of modern immigration. Due to the chaos in his African homeland, Kek must make enormous adjustments in the wake of cultural shock. From learning (the hard way) the difference between a dishwasher and a clothes washer to his bewilderment over being verbally harassed when he offers a Caucasian girl a token of their friendship, Kek learns the intricacies of his new country in a heartfelt and humorous manner.

Dance With Rosie (chosen for Not-So-Random Shelf: Easy Chapter Book)

Dance With Rosie is a charming peek into a ballet-obsessed girl's life. Rosie wants nothing more than to take ballet lessons, but she's missed the deadline! Rosie goes to great (and hilarious) lengths to learn more about ballet. That's basically the story, but it's a cute one, and well written, as you can expect from Patricia Reilly Giff.

Bad Boy (chosen for Not-So-Random Shelf: Young Adult Biography)

Walter Dean Myers is well-known for his children's/YA novels and nonfiction centered around the African-American experience through the ages. Bad Boy, his memoir of his childhood years, is a frank and moving account of his 1940s Harlem-based childhood. Delights such as the public library are related, as well as his erratic high school attendance record. This is definitely a read for young adults, as Myers discusses issues pertinent to that life stage.

So...yeah. That's what I've been reading for the past month or two (or something like that). Good stuff.

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