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I picked this one up because it was the only book from the Oregon Reader’s Choice Award senior division that I hadn’t already read. It was also a story that I wouldn’t ordinarily be drawn to, and I think it’s important as a librarian to read widely so that I can recommend widely.
I never quite knew where the story was going – it takes place partly in New York and partly in rural Wisconsin – two places where Rico doesn’t quite fit in. I thought the characters were interesting, and Hijuelos has some great observations about being in that strange, in-between place where you belong yet don’t belong. I’d recommend it to teens who are interested in reading about those experiences – either as a reflection of their own lives, in some way, or as a window into what other teens experience.
Source: my public library
This one’s a page-turner that kept me up late so I could see how it ends. Unfortunately there’s a cliff-hanger and tons of loose ends, but you do find out how that plane mysteriously appeared and disappeared and the action is non-stop the whole way. As an adult reader, I didn’t necessarily want the cliff-hanger and sequel situation, but as a kid I would’ve loved knowing that more of the story was still to come. The story is nicely constructed, although the style isn’t anything to write home about, and the kids are just fleshed-out enough to make the whole thing work. Plot, plot, plot and a fantastic hook. I might just have to pick up the second book after all. And I’m adding this to my list of books to suggest to the kids’ bookgroup I run.
Source: my library system
Jon Scieszka knows his audience – take a biography, make it just slightly over 100 pages (teachers assigning biographies, he knows what you’re up to), make about the experience of being a kid, complete with broken collarbones and made-up games, and make it hilarious. Maybe I thought it was so funny because it was just like the stories my dad tells, only with more brothers and less repetition, but I really do think you’ll find it funny, too. Wait, is that audience I mentioned ten year olds with reports due, or librarians? We’ll never know.
Source: my library
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