Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie

Thoughts  by Jordan Sonnenblick, Brilliance Audio 2011 (orig 2004), 4 hours 31 minutes

Narrated by Joel Johnstone – great job!

Genre: YA/Middle School Fiction
Type/Source: Audiobook / Audible
 Why I read this now: It was short.

MOTIVATION for READING: I don’t often remember by motivations, I sometimes just read things, buy books, let the mood and whim drive me. That said, I do know that I bought this purely because it had PIE in the title. Audible sent me an email specifically targeting my pie obsession and I didn’t think twice. Probably didn’t think once.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: When I hit play on my phone to start this audiobook, I didn’t have one clue what it was about. I didn’t know it was kid lit. I only expected drums, girls and pie. Sure, I suppose I could have guessed that a book with this title could be about a teen boy who plays the drums and chases girl. Shrug. I didn’t really think about it at all. I just hit PLAY.

And what I found out was that Steven is in a middle school jazz band and he is a very good drummer. He is infatuated with the prettiest girl in class and has a girl best friend that he really doesn’t treat very well. We (yes, I just switched to the plural all of us, ‘we’) learn that Steven has an annoying little kid brother named Jeffrey, age 5,  who — of course — knows just how to annoy his big brother, whom he idolizes, of course.

Then we find out that Jeffrey has leukemia.

WHAT’s GOOD: Kick in the gut good. Heartfelt and compassionate. And it’s FUNNY! Yes, there is humor.

What’s NOT so good: As a teacher, I found myself getting very emotional to those suggestive thoughts that we never quite know how to help our students and don’t often know what hard things they are dealing with. This hit close to home for me. I feel like I didn’t do enough for my students this year and I also don’t know what I could have done but there is always ‘never enough’. This isn’t a complaint or criticism of the book but I actually wish I had listened to it before May. I don’t have time to fix any of the never enough cases I want to attempt to help with. Prayers will have to do at this point in the school year.

FINAL THOUGHTS: If you are a middle school teacher or any teacher who appreciates a funny and loving book that has teacher-student interactions, I recommend.

As a goodreads friend reviewed, “Very very sweet. And it’s even a cancer book.

RATING: Four slices of apple pie. (The dangerous pie isn’t edible.)

“… and what of the classic apple pie?”

 

 

pierating

Copyright © 2007-2017. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.
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Summer of My German Soldier

Thoughts  by Bette Greene, Puffin Modern Classics 1973, 230 pages

Challenge: Neighborhood Book Club
Genre: Middle School Lit
Type/Source: Hardcover / Library

MOTIVATION for READING: Our club usually allows hosts to choose the book we read. Rarely are we offered a vote: this was the sole book suggested and thus the book we read. (Which I’m fine with, not saying I don’t like how we pick books. I’ve actually never been in a club that selects an entire year’s slate… Always “as we go.”)

WHAT’s it ABOUT: A 12 year old Jewish girl harbors a German POW during WWII.

WHAT’s GOOD/NOT so GOOD:  Apparently, it was a big hit years ago as a middle school read. I don’t know if it is still taught in schools but I thought the main character’s innocence wouldn’t hold up for current 12 yo’s interpretation. But I could be wrong. I found her naïve and annoying. But maybe that’s just me.

She’s smart but she can’t figure out how to shut up. But maybe that’s a good thing for a girl to not learn. We do often learn to shut up and take it and this book is a good reminder of why so many girls do: survival. She had some excellent cheerleaders in her corner so let’s hope she grew up to be a strong take-no-shit woman who lived life on her own terms. Her childhood sucked.

Just being in the same room with you, Mother, is like being feast for a thousand starving insects.

At first, I read too many reviews and was creeped out by the romance idea of a young girl with a 22 year old man. This is a friendship and not more. If I hadn’t been warned about ‘the kiss’, I might have missed it. I “thought too much” rather than read for enjoyment. As the story progressed (I admit I skipped around for the first third), I began to enjoy myself more.

It seems to me that a man who is incapable of humor is capable of cruelty.  

Cruelty is after all, cruelty, and the difference between the two men may have more to do with their degrees of power than their degrees of cruelty.

Trying to calculate different degrees of cruelty is a lot like trying to calculate the different degrees of death.

This is not a happy tale and for a coming of age, I’m not sure how much Patty wised up but I will assume she makes it out. I really do not want to read the sequel. I probably would have loved this book as a kid.

I can’t figure out how her grandparents were so lovely but her parents were despicable people…

Someone else wondered in a goodreads review, how Patty was treated for the first 5 years of her life before her adored perfect angel sister came along. Good question.

When people’s emotions are involved they don’t want to listen.

Tonight is book club, we’ll see what the discussion brings. Shall I take notes and report back? I think I shall!

RATING: Three slices of lemon meringue pie.

After we had eaten out hamburgers and French fried and drunk down our coffee, Mr. Grimes waved to the waitress, “What kind of pie you got?”

She gave her hair, which was the color of brown wrapping paper, a good scratching. “We’re all out of apple.” Nodding in the direction of the counter, she said, “Gave that feller the last piece. “

“What kind have you got left?” asked Mr. Grimes, not bothering to keep the irritation out of his voice.

“‘Bout the only thing I know we got is some sugar doughnuts left over from the morning and some lemon meringue pie.”

 

 

pierating

Copyright © 2007-2017. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.