Teresa's Reviews > Bluefish

Bluefish by Pat Schmatz
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's review
Mar 20, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: ya, young-critics-potential, teen-parent-child, animals, realistic-fiction, diversity, disabilty
Read in March, 2012

Loved this. Reminded me a little of Okay For Now by Gary Schmidt, since Travis is a kid who could choose to get into trouble but is really trying not to. Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt He lives with his newly-recovering alcoholic grandfather, and they've just moved out of their home in the country, losing track of their beloved hound dog, Rosco, in the process. In his new school, he meets the irrepressible Vida, aka "Velveeta", who basically forces him to be her friend. And then his English teacher, Mr. McQueen, figures out Travis' secret, as we do if we forgot the reviews: Travis can't read. (I really like how the author hints at this but doesn't tell us flat out, because Travis is good at hiding it, has been hiding it for years.) Mr. McQueen, unlike previous teachers, finally gets Travis to believe that he can learn to read, and they begin.

In alternating chapters, we get glimpses into Velveeta's life, and what she's lost; she and Travis become friends who know basically nothing about one another, because each one is too afraid to reveal his or her own situation. This changes, so gradually, in fits and starts, with missteps. I think this aspect of the book might make kids wonder what their classmates might be hiding. Does everyone have secrets? The sassy Vida is a great character.

I liked how dyslexia is shown, in very concrete terms--it's not a question of TRYING, the words just mean nothing, blur together, even when Travis knows them individually. Another great thing about this book is how Travis gradually learns to make choices about dealing with his anger and frustration; he knows he can beat up some bullies, but he only lets them know that he could (in order to protect another kid) and then doesn't.

Terrific book.

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Kolby I agree, it was a lot like okay for now.

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