Jackie's Reviews > North

North by Donna Jo Napoli
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Mar 13, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: adventure, canada, children-fiction, perseverance, runaways, school, self-reliance, single-parent-family, survival, winter
Read from March 08 to 13, 2011

Alvin, almost 12, is a good student, studies hard, wants to please. His mother doesn't recognize what a great kid she has... and babies him. She doesn't let him go on sleepovers, has an adult walk him to school every day, and won't allow him to get a mountain bike that he's saved money for. The kids call him 'mama's boy'.

His teacher, Ms. Artiga, assigns a huge project for Black History Month. They have to pick a black hero, do both primary and secondary research, and finally report to the class in April. Alvin knows exactly who he will pick as his hero...Matthew Henson. Matthew Henson, the bold, brave African American who explored the Polar Region.

Alvin's distraught about his mother's rules and rigidity. A plan starts brewing in Alvin's head. He'll take the money he saved for a mountain bike and follow in Henson's footsteps as he adventures North in his path. Using a combination of street smarts and common sense, and a lot of luck thrown in for good measure, Alvin crosses the border into Canada and braves the weather and the perils of this fierce beauty. He spends a season with a wizened, crusty trapper who teaches him more about tradition, survival, and respect for the earth than he would have ever gotten out of textbooks. Alvin grows both in strength and wisdom, yet misses his family month after month. His adventure takes us, the readers, on his harrowing trek through the most brutal of conditions, yet we see the maturity and personal growth that his experience gives him.

Used for Hiawatha School Book Talk: March, 2011.
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