**spoiler alert** This is another one I'm reading for a workshop I'm attending this month. The discussion group focuses on books for boys, and Leepike**spoiler alert** This is another one I'm reading for a workshop I'm attending this month. The discussion group focuses on books for boys, and Leepike Ridge definitely fits the bill. The protagonist is Tom. He is a lonesome boy that I would put somewhere in early middle school. I wasn't clear about this, but apparently, Tom's dad passed away. I honestly thought his father walked out on the family. You find out how Tom's dad died later in the story. The new man in his mom's life is Jeffrey, but really, his mom doesn't really have strong feelings one way or another for Jeffrey. And, oh yeah, they live in an interesting house. Chains secure their home to a massive rock. And really, why do you care? You find out later in the story. It turns out to be a way of wrapping everything up nicely, but it took too long for me to figure out why we should care he lives in a weird house.
Anyways, Jeffrey proposed to his mom, and she seems to be considering it. Tom isn't a fan of Jeffrey. Their interaction earlier in the day was uncomfortable at best. His mom still operated under the impression that Tom "likes" playing with boxes. Since they live on a rock, they constantly need new appliances. A new fridge arrives the day the story begins. Tom's mom sent him after the pieces of packaging he sent sailing into the great outdoors. Tom can't sleep one night. Tom realizes a piece of foam can float, so he sets sail down the river. Unfortunately, he falls asleep and wakes only when the current gets out of hand. This is the part I really, really liked. It scared the crap out of me! Especially, the part where he is sent into a cave on the side of the mountain. How the fudge are they going to get him out of there?
He ends up on a beach with a dead guy. Okay, maybe I missed it, but who was the dead guy in the cave Tom finds? We know people died down there, but that body was fresh. Maybe it just didn't seem important enough to pick up on when I read it. You focus more on whether or not Tom's mom finds out about the message Tom left on the body. He gets batteries and sardines from this guys body, so maybe he was a means to propel the plot along?
Soon, he has to set sail again because a fierce rainstorm has sent the water level rising, but not after meeting Gus, a dog that his crotchety neighbor Nestor sent into the river. Okay, of course Tom doesn't know about it. Tom's mom hasn't given up hope that Tom is alive. She doesn't get the help from Jeffrey she hoped for, and now, Phil, a shady character, is hanging around seeing if he can "help". He has his own motives. Anyways, back to the cave. Tom thinks he is done for, but a HAND reaches out to grab him. Who is this character?
None other then Reg! His father's old friend. Reg has been stuck down in the cave for over three years! Oddly, that is how long his father has been dead. Gus his of course his faithful dog who he hasn't see in as much time. Unable to figure a way out, Reg has made do with craw fish, a water clock, fire bowls, and his own "treasure room". Now we hear the whole story. There are rumors of treasures in the caves. Maybe even traces of earlier cultures not believed to be in the US! And, of course, there is an unfriendly competition for these treasures. (Back home, Tom's mom is having a heck of a time convincing Phil and Jeffrey she really doesn't want to marry them while tied up even if they want a cut of the treasure. Thank you very much. A bit of violence finds its away into this book.) Tom takes a moment to digest all Reg has told him. Get this! Between Tom and Reg, they are able to make it out in a matter of days and arrive in just a nick of time to thwart the evil doers.
It ends happily for the heroes of the story. Readers are left with the impression that Reg will now marry Tom's mom. Really, Elizabeth has a lot of suitors. Tom and Reg get to enjoy their Crazy Berry drinks out in the sun.
One thing that bugs me is this book could appeal to girls as well. There is no reason why they wouldn't get as much out of the mystery of what is really going on in that cave, the suspense of not knowing whether Tom, Reg and Gus will make it, and the adventure of making do on your own. Will that come up at the workshop? Should we define books as girl books or boy books?...more
Very readable. The chapters aren't really chapters, but a sort of a time line. You aren't committed to reading a lot at any one time. It works to yourVery readable. The chapters aren't really chapters, but a sort of a time line. You aren't committed to reading a lot at any one time. It works to your advantage at the beginning when you aren't invested in any of the characters and don't really care way happens. Later, you are so invested that the size of the chapters don't really matter.
Many themes make their way into this book. You have the whole school thing going on. Stanford isn't so much into school, but is a basketball fiend. He risks losing his place on the "A" team if he doesn't get a passing grade in summer school english. So, you have a whole learning to do your best, and you may surprised that you enjoy it subtext.
Connected, Stanford's relationship with his father isn't the best. He doesn't feel he measures up to what his father expects of him. He is tutored by the town genius who is able to carry on a conversation with his father better than he can. His older sister has a better relationship with his father because she gets good grades. No matter how hard he tries, it seems his father isn't happy with it. The author reveals where Stanford's name comes from, and it further reinforces this theme.
His father is losing touch with his family. His parents fight. Stanford's dad is going for a big promotion and risks losing touch with his family because he is spending time away from home and not listening. Stanford's grandmother Yin-yin also plays a role because he thinks she wants to run away from a retirement home. Is it really what is best for her?
Stanford also learns what makes a friend. Is it someone who is willing to buy you anything, but blackmails you? Is it someone who bullies other people including the town genius Millicent Min? Is it someone who is there for you when you need it the most? Is it a teacher who wants you to do your best. He also experiences first love. Honesty and loyalty plays a big role in even that relationship.
I love that whenever Stanford is frustrated he knits! Plus, he watches Sesame Street with his friend Stretch. He doesn't want anyone to know these things, but it shows how complex everyone is. Plus, guess what a Hee-Haw game is?...more
I like this one a bit more because it explains the terms and what happens during penance, but isn't too hard. I'm worried that fourth graders will finI like this one a bit more because it explains the terms and what happens during penance, but isn't too hard. I'm worried that fourth graders will find it to childish, but there are parts that work for kids that young. For example, the 10 Commandments are written in kid-friendly terms.
Love God with all your heart. Use God's name with respect and love. Keep Sundays special and holy. Love and obey your mother and father. Treat God's creations kindly. Respect your body as a gift from God. Don't take things that don't belong to you. Always tell the truth. Don't be jealous or greedy. Help others who are in need. ...more
I got the book for a workshop I will attend, but amongst the multitude of books in my to read pile, this one caught my attention. The Trial is a highlI got the book for a workshop I will attend, but amongst the multitude of books in my to read pile, this one caught my attention. The Trial is a highly readable book. I sat down and read it all in one hour. First of all, it talks about Charles Lindbergh, and I love historical fic probably more than any other genre. Second, I open it up, and it is written in free verse. Plus, it is broken into sections with quotes from people living at the time. I hope they are genuine. In one way, it was a shock to find out that the author grew up in the town the trial took place, but it gave her some authenticity in telling the story the way she did.
You get the feeling the author did her research when you read the epilogue and authors note, so it leads one to believe they are. The premise of the story: the trial of the man accused of kidnapping Charles Lindbergh's baby told from the perspective of town resident Katie Leigh Flynn. She gets the gig by previously showing an interest in reporting at her uncle's newspaper. (He broke his arm playing basketball, so he needs a secretary to be able to report the trial.) She sits in one the trial and witnesses the justice system at work. She realizes that perhaps justice isn't necessarily fair. She also sees what would be today considered the paparazzi at work around Lindbergh and wonders if he would do anything differently knowing this would be the outcome.
It is definitely a make you think type of book. As Bryant states at the end, she exposes children to the facts of the story, but she "hope[s] that The Trial will be a starting point for readers to consider the complexities of human behavior, both individual and social, and to clarify their own concepts of truth and justice."...more
I enjoyed it because, honestly, I was at a lost for what an idiom is. I remember learning about it in school, but there are so many things that sinceI enjoyed it because, honestly, I was at a lost for what an idiom is. I remember learning about it in school, but there are so many things that since have departed this brain. So, I learned from the book that an idiom is a statement that means one thing literally, but should be taken a different way. (Looking the word up in the dictionary didn't really help.) For example, I froze my butt off, or I'm blue. The premise of the story is a young boy is afraid of going to school because he has hear all sorts of terrible things can happen. So he decides to make a list. His list is then illustrated through the whole book. You also have to love as he is then trying to remember all of these odd warnings his dad gives him one last thing to keep in mind: Keep your head on straight! What a wonderful way to introduce this concept!...more
It doesn't focus on the Vatican as much as I would like. It has a few good maps, but it deviates too much from holy places. This includes such subjectIt doesn't focus on the Vatican as much as I would like. It has a few good maps, but it deviates too much from holy places. This includes such subject headings as "How Do Roman Catholics Celebrate Their Faith?" and "Saints and Relics". I was also disconcerted by the sense of otherness. I'm reading a book about things I'm familiar with but it doesn't ring true for me. It feels too fact based. It also paints churches with one brush. I had a hard time with the line that says Christian churches have an Our Lady's Chapel. I didn't even know what an Our Lady's Chapel was, and I've been in more than one church. Basically, it felt like an overview of religion under the guise of talking about sacred locales....more
It has a nihil obstat and an imprimatur which is one of the first things I look for in books to use during class. I worried that it wouldn't be age apIt has a nihil obstat and an imprimatur which is one of the first things I look for in books to use during class. I worried that it wouldn't be age appropriate for the grade I teach - fourth. The inside cover states the book is for ages 4 and up. It is a tad juvenile in my opinion for fourth grade, but it includes a lot of good information. There is a graphic depiction on how to make the sign of the cross. It also could serve as a simple introduction to the parts of the mass. (The symbolism of the bread and what it means is even a topic.) It also has great illustrations of a priest's vestments. The picture glossary is also excellent. I could use parts of it independently to augment a topic in class. Yet, I have my doubts that a child could recognize that each church is set up differently. The map of a church could be confusing if a child takes it too literally....more