It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 7/13/15
Every Monday I look forward to reading the kidlit linkups at Visit Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. On these sites I connect with other teachers, librarians, and readers to see what books I need to be reading. My favorite part about the community is reading other people’s reviews of books I’ve read. Often times I read a review that eloquently articulates my thoughts about a book. Other times I wonder if I’m crazy because I didn’t like a book that everyone else adores. So consider joining the community if you haven’t already!
This week I’ve read one middle grade novel and two young adult novels:
Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
My coworker told me her son loved these Wimpy Kid books and she, unfortunately, had the honor of reading them to him. She had several grievances about the series. 1) Improper grammar. The diary is written by a young boy, so naturally he begins many sentences with “Me and Rowley.” 2) Questionable character. The main character, Greg must face difficult decisions. In one scene Greg’s mom tells him to do the right thing. Greg doesn’t. While there are repercussions to his decision, they don’t seem to faze Greg. Instead, Greg is happy with his decision to essentially throw his friend under the bus.
After reading the book, I understand her concerns. We learn grammar by the books we read and good grammar is a valuable skill. If she doesn’t want her eight-year-old ingesting poor grammar, I get it. But the book is a young boy’s journal. Even I don’t use proper grammar all of the time. It’s imperative to the authenticity of the journal that it’s written in Greg’s voice.
I also understand her concern about her son looking up to and idolizing the protagonist. Greg’s character left much more to be desired. He was a bad friend for the majority of the book and he is an altogether self-centered kid. When he outed his friend, there was little to no remorse. His indifference was startling.
When I watched the movie adaptation, it did a great job of showing the negative consequences to being a bad friend. Likewise, it also depicted the rewards of being a good friend. While I don’t want an unrealistic character, I wanted redeemable qualities in Greg besides just claiming “the cheese touch.” I can understand my coworker’s concern about her young son looking up to a character like Greg.
With all things considered, I can understand why parents don’t like this series. On the flip side, I can also see why kids love the charming illustrations and conversational honesty. Personally, the book fell flat for me. I think there are better partially illustrated novels that will hook reluctant readers.
Fat Boy vs the Cheerleaders by Geoff Herbach
I bought a used copy of this book and, when I opened it up, I saw all “dirty words” crossed out and a more mild word scribbled beside them, which made me laugh.
Fat Boy vs. the Cheerleaders is exactly what you expect: a band geek going against the popular kids. The story is told by Gabe as he recounts the events that led to the biggest war in school history to the cop who is questioning him.
I read a review that compared this book to Winger by Andrew Smith. Much to my disappointment, Fat Boy was not comparable to the awesomness of Winger. I liked that the book addressed stereotyping, but it was just too clique for me.
Paper Towns by John Green
I’m not on the John Green bandwagon, but he makes it hard not to join the fangirls and fanboys when he writes books like this! I loved Paper Towns. Between the unique plotline and the depiction of the high school “outsiders,” I found myself reading this book every chance I had. Another bonus was that I didn’t bawl my eyes out at the end of the book like I did when I read The Fault in Our Stars.
Before this book I had no idea Paper Towns existed, but now I really want to make a trip to the paper town John (in real life) found in South Dakota.
Plus, I can’t wait for the movie!