My summer reading in a hammock under a big maple tree continues! I've found a few titles that I had not seen before so I'm excited to share.
Exit Strategy by Lauren Allbright is on my list for purchase this fall. I think my male students will really enjoy it.
12- year-old Ross moves from school to school more frequently than some kids change their underwear. His mom is a musician with a traveling show, and Ross moves with her to various cities on the tour always enrolling at a new school. He's pretty quiet in class while he's there, but he has developed an interesting way to leave when it's time to move on to a new district. On his last day, Ross likes to play an epic prank! Whether it's goldfish in the toilets or salt in the coffee machines, Ross starts thinking of his "exit strategy" on the first day. While his pranks are becoming more and more creative, what would happen if Ross had to stay in one place for a while? Who is he if he's not the guy who pulls the last day prank? When an unexpected event lands him in a permanent place, Ross sets out to discover how to be funny without his tricks. He even turns the question of "how to be funny" into a science project. His research leads him in a surprising direction and he discovers that the formula for funny might not be that cut and dry.
This story was very entertaining. It's unique and quite endearing. Like most middle grade book characters, Ross has to sort through the minutia of bullies, cute girls, and nerdy science partners. His research on the art of humor will teach him (and the reader) a fantastic lesson. How important is it to be funny? What makes someone or something funny? Do we all laugh at the same things? Does it matter? This is a great book for a reluctant reader because of it's humor and general tomfoolery (that's a great word that I need to use more). My students are going to like this one a great deal.
I'm sorry I didn't get to this book sooner than now as it was published last year. This is another one on my list for order!
Far From Fair by Elana Arnold is a terrific book. Odette's life is about to change in a way few of us can imagine. Her parents have made the decision to simplify their lives. They sell their house and all of their belongings and purchase an RV called "the coach." The plan is for her family to live in the camper and travel wherever the road might take them. They will bring only what fits in the coach and only the necessities. While her parents are incredibly excited, it feels like the end of the world for Odette. What about her school, her friends and HER CELL PHONE!? Sharing a confined space (a definite breach of privacy) with her parents and younger brother on a permanent basis feels like the end of the world for Detters. Worst of all, no one bothered to ask her if she would want this life. Nonetheless, they begin their journey up the west coast. Their first stop on their adventure is to see her wise and beloved Grandmom Sissy who Odette discovers is gravely ill. Her grandmother has always been a calming presence for Odette, but Sissy's illness adds to the upheaval of the family's new life. Odette feels more and more powerless with each passing day. Why won't anyone listen to what SHE wants and needs?
I happened to be reading this book while I was camping with my family. We were on the third day and I was starting to get a little antsy for the comforts of home and my nice soft bed. I kept looking around as I was reading trying to imagine what it would be like to actually live in the camper. A simple life of adventure and family togetherness seems so appealing until the kids start fighting, the dog starts barking and wifi is no where to be found. This story led to some AWESOME discussions with my children. How much do we really need? Is technology ruining our family time? Wouldn't a cross country adventure be amazing? The jury is still out in my family.
I think my 4th-5th grade students will really be able to relate to Odette and her frustrations. The end of this story also teaches a powerful lesson best summed up by the Rolling Stones- You can't always get what you want, but if try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.