A Crooked Kind of Perfect

The nice thing about younger narrators is the innocence and naivete they bring to the story, it makes it light-hearted even if it really isn’t.

The Book: A Crooked Kind of Perfect

Zoe, age 11, wants to be a piano prodigy to someday play at Carnegie Hall. Instead her father brings home an organ, a Perfectone D-60, complete with lessons from Maybelline Person who drinks Vernor’s Ginger Ale (my favorite) and well, seems bored (until she sees some talent in Zoe who ends up playing Neil Diamond’s FOrever in Blue Jeans on the organ – can you imagine?!?).  The real thing going on here despite Zoe’s focus on being a piano prodigy is the reason why her dad brought home the organ – he seems to have agoraphobia, a fear of being in an open or crowded space. He gets distracted and uncomfortable by noise and crowds.  He stays home and takes living room university courses.  He can’t drive Zoe places because he gets lost, lie really lost.  Like most 11 year old narrators Zoe takes this in stride and with good humor, despite the disappointments it can lead to.  But when she gets involved in Perform – o – rama she needs him to step up.  Particularly since her mom is always working.  Zoe’s life isn’t perfect, but she approaches it with good humor, and makes a few unexpected friends, particularly with Wheeler, who also befriends her dad (he needs one himself).

I liked Zoe – she was funny, and the innocence and lack of teenage angst was refreshing.

Becky liked it too.

So did Fuse 8 – you should really read this review!

Letting Go of the Knife

So despite some loud epithets and book throwing (spoiler at link)I finished The Knife of Never Letting Go.  What is 120 pages right?

It wasn’t really my cup of tea – set in some unnamed future on some unnamed planet.  Men, boys, and animals thoughts are broadcast, but interestingly enough not women’s or girl’s.  They call it noise, and while some secrets can’t be hidden, some can. In  Prentisstown only men exist, and on your 13th birthday you become a man – in some mysterious way.

Todd is forced to flee shortly before he becomes a man, running though a forest away from an army  and a mad man with a strange girl.  Viola is not the only surprising thing Todd discovers, as he had thought New Prentisstown was all there was on the new world, and that girls had long ago died off.  Along the way he learns the horrible secrets of the men he had always been surround by, including the fate of Prentisstown women.  It is fast paced, adventurous, overloaded with ‘stuff to talk about’, included the nature of good and evil, information overload, colonization.  But despite all of  that I had to force myself to finish and found myself getting bored.  This is because it isn’t my reading preference, not because it wasn’t plotted well with enough character development.  I would book talk it, recommend it particularly to middle school kids, but I won’t read Book 2 or 3.

The Knife of Never Letting Go – SPOILERS

He killed the dog!!!!!! I freakin’ hate it when they kill the dog. I am on page 353 of 479 and now I don’t know if I want to finish because HE KILLED MANCHEE!

Animoto.com

Many of these have found their way into the classroom – which ones am I missing based on what you see in middle school classrooms?

Taken

In the year 2036 kidnapping has become a big business – and so has security. So Charity is prepared when she is Taken, she cooperates with the kidnappers, tries not to panic, and counts the hours as she waits for the ransom drop. In order to stay calm she tries to remember every detail about the days leading up to her kidnapping. Which is why a savvy reader might figure out what is happening before Charity does.
Bloor creates a world in the future in which currency is king, after a credit collapse (the copyright on this is 2007 – hmmmm…….), and rich people not only live lives separate from everyone else in terms of security but also in terms of awareness. For instance Charity’s live in maid and butler have ‘adopted work names’ of Victoria and Albert. There is some subtle, and not- so subtle social commentary going on in this book.
All of that aside there is also suspense, and a little bit of action.
Overall I wouldn’t say Bloor has done a phenomenal job on this one. It tried to hard to make a statement, at the same time the plot never generated a lot of questions and suspense.
Still I read it in one take, and I’d recommend it for middle schoolers.

Other blog reviews:

From The Book Splot

D.R.  Hill Middle School

Don’t Judge a Girl By Her Cover

So here is the deal – once upon a time (when I was, I don’t know, 8 or 9) I wanted to be a spy.  Not a Harriet the Spy* kind of spy because I don’t know she seemed kind of mean (gasp, gasp) but a Nancy Drew kind of detective/spy.  So the Gallagher Girls series reminds me of wanting to be a spy.

Gallagher Girls are specially trained teenage girls, trained in encryption, and covert ops, and protection and enforcement (?, I think that is what the E is for).  They have fun tools, live in a mansion with secret hiding spots and passageways, and take classes in disguise.  They are trained in the ways of being a spy.  This does not including training in boys per se, which can be a problem.  Which isn’t to say there are no boys – in Book 2 a whole class of boys spies came to visit.  They are also not trained in the ways of family dynamics, which is more the focus of Book 3.

Macey McHenry’s father is running for Vice President, which means campaigning with her family.  Which Macey doesn’t really enjoy.  When a kidnap attempt fails at the convention Macey enjoys it even less, her safety seems at risk when she takes the stage at rallies.  But she must.  Cam, Bex, and Liz do what they can to protect her, but this means avoiding the Secret Service, and Cam’s glamorous and dangerous Aunt.  Easier said than done, but they are Gallagher Girls.  Of course, in the life of a spy nothing is as it seems . . . .

This title doesn’t stand on its own as it continues Cam’s relationship with and to Zach, and in the end the answers aren’t what you expect, and more questions exist.  Such is the life of a spy.  But as always its a fun read, if a little more serious than the previous books.

*I have a love/hate relationship with Harriet.  I get her, but I remember when I first read the book I felt sad and kind of sick to my stomach for Sport and Janie when they read her journal, and I felt bad for a lot of the sad lives of the adults she spied on (not all, just some).  But I read it over and over again because there was just something about Harriet.

Animoto.com

This is a quick example of Animoto – a video I created just to give you a bit of background on my experience.

Here is a longer biography:

I graduated from UC Santa Cruz in 1991 with a degree in Literature.

I received a teaching credential in 1994 from Sonoma State.

I taught 7th grade English at Golden West Middle School for four years – where I met a fabulous school librarian and realized he had the job I wanted.

I was the teacher librarian at Bohannon Middle School while I finished my MLIS.

I received my MLIS from SJSU in 1999.

I was the teacher librarian at Arcata High School until 2008.

I served on Quick Picks for Young Adults (among other YALSA activities)

I served on AASL‘s Board of Directors (Among other AASL activities)

I served as CSLA Northern Section President (among other CSLA activities)

I entered the SJSU/QUT Gateway to a PhD program in 2008.