Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Books that Didn't Make the Cut

Compiling lists for the first book talks of the season.  Here are books I partially read that won't be in the limelight in front of 500 middle schoolers.

Saving the Baghdad Zoo: A True Story of Hope and Heroes, by Kelly Milner Halls and Major William Sumner.  Although informative, this is in picture book format, with more pictures than text.  Probably it would be good for upper grade school, but I want "real books" for tweens.

Katy's New World, by Kim Vogel Sawyer.    An interesting premise, but the language is killing this book.  It has a poorly written: both the character's thoughts and all the characters' dialogue doesn't feel genuine or seem to reflect reality.

Me and Death: An Afterlife Adventure, by Richard Scrimger. This is probably meant to appeal to high-low readers or something, but it doesn't appeal to me.  The sentences are excruciatingly short, with very little variation.  The author (narrator?) also doesn't use quotation marks, which makes the dialogue more difficult to follow.
The book opens with the main character talking quite casually about his thefts of the last few days.  He is rude and disrespectful to, well, everyone.  There might be a possible story line with a mentally-ill sister, or his disengaged (abusive?) mother but I can't imagine anyone struggling through it.

Nerd Girls: The Rise of the Dorkasaurus, by Alan Lawrence Sitomer.  24pages.  This book seems like it will be very funny.  Even though all the characters we've met so far are girls, the writing really strikes me as a boy-book: enough conflict and a little bit of gross stuff.  Maybe that's because this was written by a guy.  I think it's worth a look, but I'm not getting the feeling that this is a book I can sell with passion.

Shift, by Jennifer Bradbury.  Ms. Yingling mentioned in passing that this was a fantastic book.  And it is.
Unfortunately, I'm not sure I can sell a summer-after-high-school book to kids in their first week of 6th grade.  If I ever do high school visits, I'm so bringing this.

POD, by Stephan Wallenfels.  I think I started this one before, but I can't find anything saying so.  It just feels really familiar.
Again, a great book, very intriguing and gripping right from the start, but there have been a few F-bombs even before page 30-- the first narrator is 16 (the second narrator is 12, so there would be a wide age-range this could appeal to, but we are talking mature readers here).

Princess in the Spotlight, by Meg Cabot.  The writing style is very appropriate to middle school readers, but I'm not sure the content is.  This is book 2 in the series (I can't find book 1 on the shelf, I assume it's checked out) and the main character is upset that her mom is pregnant and is pretty fixated on why and how for these first few chapters.  Also, turns out her dad isn't dead.  Huh, guess there's some stuff they left out of the Disney adaptation (no surprise there, I guess).  I'd say good for 9th grade slow readers or easy summer reading, but not much else.

Royally Jacked, by Niki Burnham.    I'm going to have to weed this book purely based on condition, but its age is showing through in other ways-- after reading 20 pages, I thought that the language was spot on... for when I finished high school.  This was actually published in 2004, so end of my college years.  Between the super-in language and other pop culture references, the book is really dated.  I need to check the rest of the series and probably weed the whole set.  This first book only checked out once this year.  Otherwise, it would be ok for late-middle-schoolers: the main character is a little bit older, but the print is good sized and it's easy reading.

DupliKate, by Cherry Cheva.   from page 2: "'You're going to get into Yale and go there int he fall and do many things to me in my dorm room.  Unspeakable things.'"  These are not the concerns of seventh-graders.  The cover was attractive, the girl on the front doesn't look too old, the book has good-sized margins, but so not for my 13-year-olds.

Trapped, by Michael Northrop.    I am a huge sucker for these survival stories.  However, I don't think I'm going to be able to sell this to my kids.  I want to finish reading it later, but so far, the language is too stilted, to trying-for-cool.  Maybe high school boys in the northeast do sound like that, but they don't sound like that in my head. Also, there is some super-dense foreshadowing that isn't so much creating suspense: "Images creep in: black smoke and blue skin. // But again, I'm getting ahead of myself, way ahead."  and "The high school was kind of out in the middle of nowhere, on a big tract of what used to be farmland.  That's kind of a big deal, and I'll get back to it later.  For now, all you need to know is that two miles away was about as close as anyone was liable to be."
I'll pass for now and pick this one up again later.

1 comment:

Ms. Yingling said...

You are right on for all of these. 6th graders are totally different creatures than 8th graders! If you ever need help selecting anything, just shoot me an e mail! I've been doing a big business in Tim Green and Heather Brewer for the boys and Elizabeth Cody Kimmel and the Candy Apple books for girls.