RAM Readers Spring 2020 discussion

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Drums, Girls, & Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick

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message 1: by Lisa (new)

Lisa (drld) | 24 comments Mod
A family tries to hold it all together when an unexpected illness comes to the family.


message 2: by Yao (new)

Yao Chen | 49 comments • The book has a big turning point in the end. It makes me sad and happy at the same time. Thirteen-year-old Steven has a getting-me-in-trouble brother Jeffrey who diagnoses with leukemia. After that, the whole family has been turned upside down. In the middle school, there are always some girls who are very hot and popular. Steven’s crush Renee is one of them. As usual, she does not really notice Steven’s alive. Gradually, Steven realizes that his friend Annette is the girl who is inspiring, understanding and always be there with him. Drum is an important element through the whole story. I know that music, sports, and books are things that can give people courage and support especially during hardships. Practicing drum is the time Steven can escape from the reality and know more about himself to collect more self-efficacy facing the difficulty.

• English journal entry has been mentioned several times in the book. I like how Miss Palma makes the private rule of folding down the page. I used to do some similar assignments when I was in middle school. And I enjoyed freewriting without a topic. When Jeffrey is very sick, the parents are too busy to pay attention to their firstborn son. They do not have enough time to check in with Steven often. They do not know what is going on with him. Teenagers are long for attention from both home and school. These plots somehow remind me of another book Wonder. Truthfully, I think the teacher meeting held for Steven is really good. Even though Steven does not want to share his corners in the first place, I am glad to see the teachers are there to help him. The author also tries to convey positive attitudes of facing a family crisis. He uses some humor to give readers time to be relieved. After reading most of the books on the list, I figure out that Star Wars are very popular here (LOL).

• Something else I notice from this book is teenagers really starting to pay more attention to how they look. For instance, Steven will dress neatly, comb hair, and put on cologne to meet his crush. On the other hand, he can also be very sweet and does not care about appearance. When Jeffrey gets hurt because he is bald, Steven shaves his entire head too. Plus, his bank friends do the same thing at the end of the story. It is hard to ask teenagers to consider someone else’s feelings when their lives seem messed up. Steven’s character is growing in the book. He is full of anger and complain a lot in the beginning. However, he becomes more responsible and reasonable along with addressing family and school issues successfully.


message 3: by Diana (new)

Diana | 31 comments This novel is a great introduction for a preteen life or a situation like Jeffrey. The novel is a smooth read, an eye-opener for friendships, and sweet.
For me, this novel was spotty, like the timeline jumps one month to 3 months later. I also thought the book was pretty predictable for example Steven liking the hottest girl in school but in the end he likes his friend Annette. Another example was the hair cuts.
I love the messages the novel is trying to give, "Instead of agonizing about the things you can't change, work on the things you CAN change" I would recommend this novel for intermediate-level readers (5th or 6th grade).


message 4: by Lourdes (new)

Lourdes A. | 49 comments This is a sad story, but it is an important subject to make people aware of how a serious illness can invade and changes an ordinary life in ways that demand changes and adaptations to face it. I like reading about Steven's feelings, his love, and concern for Jeffrey, his little brother. The fun fact is that Steve used to get bothered by Jeffrey until he receives the news that Jeffrey is badly sick. From that moment on, Steven discovers how much he loves his young brother. I recommend this book to young adults and those who like reading realistic fiction.
Steven, a thirteen-year-old boy, had a normal life until the day his little brother Jeffrey gets badly sick with cancer. Steven must learn how to deal with his brother's illness, the tension at home and keep up at school.
When Jeffrey is diagnoses with leukemia, Steve sees his life turned upside down. His concerns changed from preparation for a drum concert and winning the attention of a girl from school (Renee) to Jeffrey´s situation. Steve´s priorities and plans became the second place, and he starts helping his parents to get Jeffrey through treatments.
In one of Steve´s visits to the hospital with Jeffrey, he meets a sick girl (Samantha) who teaches him a new level of friendship, and he starts to become more mature. When he gets home, he starts reading a book about leukemia, and he says, “We couldn´t change the fact that Jeffrey was sick, but we could make sure we knew what was going on. And if there was one thing I´d finally figured out, it was that your mind is something you always CAN change” (P.242). I really like this part of the book.
The story ends with Steven having his eighth-grade graduation ceremony and winning The Outstanding Musical Achievement Award that makes him happy. However, the feeling of doing the right thing to Jeffrey makes him think about how his perspective of life has changed. He finds himself able to love in ways that he never imagined to be possible.


message 5: by Lourdes (new)

Lourdes A. | 49 comments Yao wrote: "• The book has a big turning point in the end. It makes me sad and happy at the same time. Thirteen-year-old Steven has a getting-me-in-trouble brother Jeffrey who diagnoses with leukemia. After th..."

Hi Yao,
I like your comments, especially when you mention that "Drum is an important element through the whole story. I know that music, sports, and books are things that can give people courage and support especially during hardships." I completely agree with you that playing drums gives Steven emotional support to deal with his brother´s illness. It´s incrediable how music, books, and sports help people low their stress, deviating their thoughts from bad situations. One of the things I am doing in this quarantine time is playing guitar. I used to play well a long time ago, but I stopped, and I realized that now it is a good opportunity to come back to music.


message 6: by Natalie (new)

Natalie Thomas | 46 comments Lisa wrote: "A family tries to hold it all together when an unexpected illness comes to the family."

This wasn't my favorite book from our list, but it was an easy read. I really appreciate how this book illustrates the devastating effect cancer can have on the entire family. We get a glimpse of how Jeffy's cancer is affecting everyone in the family: mom is constantly tired and worried, dad is in complete denial, and Stevie is forgotten and neglected--not to mention the horrendous physical toll it is taking on Jeffy.
What is unique is that this book shows what it is like to be a sibling of a seriously sick child. The sibling suffers, as well. When the parents are preoccupied by Jeffy and their own fears, they forget that Stevie is hurting, too. Stevie learns to fend for himself, and accept that neglect might be a part of normal life. Luckily, he escapes through his drums; his drums turn out to be his saving grace and his outlet.
I can see this book being a successful tool for therapists or counselors who are working with the siblings of a child with cancer. It's a beneficial perspective and hopefully the siblings can find a common ground with Stevie.


message 7: by Natalie (new)

Natalie Thomas | 46 comments Yao wrote: "• The book has a big turning point in the end. It makes me sad and happy at the same time. Thirteen-year-old Steven has a getting-me-in-trouble brother Jeffrey who diagnoses with leukemia. After th..."

Yao: You make a really great point about Ms. Palma's rule that journal entries can be folded if the student does not want them to be read. That really is a great outlet for students; the students can write their hearts our without fear. The important thing is that the teacher must honor that promise to not read a folded page. Also, it's a good idea for the teacher, as well. In terms of liability, the teacher is spared from reading content that he or she MIGHT be legally obligated to report. As a new teacher many years ago, I had my students free-journal, and the students revealed some very disturbing things that I was forced to report. Sometimes, they would write disturbing things on purpose (they weren't even true), but because I read it, I had to report it. This caused a few problems.


message 8: by Natalie (new)

Natalie Thomas | 46 comments Diana wrote: "This novel is a great introduction for a preteen life or a situation like Jeffrey. The novel is a smooth read, an eye-opener for friendships, and sweet.
For me, this novel was spotty, like the tim..."


Diana: I also liked the theme: focus on the things you CAN change. I think that's super important, especially for people who are worriers by nature. Stevie definitely had plenty of reasons to worry, but letting go of the things he could not change really helped him to find a balance. Following that motto, honestly, saved him.


message 9: by Bruna (new)

Bruna Alcaraz | 41 comments The story begins with the protagonist Steven claiming his little brother, Jeffrey. Jeff has a serious problem of saying exactly what he thinks, and this often ruins the life of his brother who is in love with a girl named Renee and has as best friend the pianist in his band - All City -, who calls Anette. As you can see, a lot of information is passed on right at the beginning of the book, but in the course of the story, understanding or asking the author or the favorite after this more "running" structure, so to speak.

Early in the narrative, Jeff is diagnosed with cancer, or completely changes the life of the whole family and especially Steven. The mother and the sick little brother go to Philly to look for a way to better take care of the disease, leaving Steve and his father alone at home for a long time. The man changes radically and withdraws, ignores his son in several possible ways and begins to exhibit a large number of financial problems that are accumulating in the family that is undergoing treatment. At a time when the father complains, he is just a recluse but never gives in to the problem.
Real and exciting, Drums, girls & the dangerous pie is a story about solidarity, love, and hope.
The best lesson about this book is don't worried about the things you can't change!


message 10: by Bruna (new)

Bruna Alcaraz | 41 comments Yao wrote: "• The book has a big turning point in the end. It makes me sad and happy at the same time. Thirteen-year-old Steven has a getting-me-in-trouble brother Jeffrey who diagnoses with leukemia. After th..."

Hi Yao
I can see in each book that is linked with a teenager's life, they are very worried about their appearance. However, this book shows another reality.


message 11: by Jackie (new)

Jackie Olalde | 44 comments Drum, Girls, and Dangerous Pie

Drum, Girls, and Dangerous Pie is a novel about a boy named Steven, who is living this life as a typical eighth-grade boy when it drastically changes after an accidental fall changes his whole family.

This book was a straightforward read, and I think it gives the reader insight into what life is like for a typical eighth-grade boy. Steven started his day trying to be kind and make breakfast for himself and his little brother. Jeffrey is Steven's little brother, who is five years old when he is diagnosed with leukemia. I think that it was so sad to find out that Jeffrey had told his family that his "parts' hurt, but they just blew him off. I know that children say silly things like that all the time, but it still stuck with me.

As the story progress, Jeffrey is getting worse, and his family has to adjust. Jeffrey and his mom stay at the hospital while Stevena and his dad are at home. As Steven sees how sick his brother is, he starts going through the motions, but he is not there anymore. He stops doing his school work and loses interest in everything. Steven gets upset that no one is paying attention to him. I would hope that I would notice this if it ever happened to someone I know and am close with. I would want to help them, and be was going to. This reminded me of Hannah from Thirteen Reasons Why. Hannah wanted people to notice the changes that were happening to her, but no one ever did. Fortunately, the end of the story is much happier than the one in Hannah's story, with a fantastic benefit concert for Jeffrey. This story reminded me that it is important to check in on the people that we care about. This is especially true during these challenging times.


message 12: by Yao (new)

Yao Chen | 49 comments Diana wrote: "This novel is a great introduction for a preteen life or a situation like Jeffrey. The novel is a smooth read, an eye-opener for friendships, and sweet.
For me, this novel was spotty, like the tim..."


Hey Diana,

I also like the positive messages that the author is trying to tell readers. Everyone's life is not so easy, but we still need to keep moving forward. I would recommend it to the young too even though it's not my type of book for pleasure reading right now.

Yao Chen


message 13: by Yao (new)

Yao Chen | 49 comments Natalie wrote: "Lisa wrote: "A family tries to hold it all together when an unexpected illness comes to the family."

This wasn't my favorite book from our list, but it was an easy read. I really appreciate how th..."


Hey Natalie,

I have some very similar points as you. I admit that it's an easy-to-read book, but not the type of book I would read if I have a choice. However, it's still a nice story to read and see how the whole family is going through over this crisis. Always remember the major lesson from the book, don't struggle with something you can't change.

Yao Chen


message 14: by Lourdes (new)

Lourdes A. | 49 comments Diana wrote: "This novel is a great introduction for a preteen life or a situation like Jeffrey. The novel is a smooth read, an eye-opener for friendships, and sweet.
For me, this novel was spotty, like the tim..."


Hi Diana,
I agree with you about the great message that this novel brings. People should not concern about things that they cannot change; however, they can do something to help in the situation that they may be experiencing. In general, people wast a lot of energy trying to change things that are not in their control. This book is a good reminder for all of us.


message 15: by ThaoTam (new)

ThaoTam  Nguyen  | 46 comments Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick
This story touched my heart because the love in the story: that is the love of the family, the love of a teenager to his younger brother( he plays drums in the All-Star Jazz band and at the concert, the band has shaved their heads in honor of Jeffrey, it also the love that they give to cancer patients) the love of a friend to friend
(between Steven and Sam). The main character is Steven Alper, a thirteen- year- old boy, he has a normal life and as the same, as the other teenager he doesn’t like his brother- Jeffrey. Once day, the Alpers received the bad news about Jeffrey, Jeffrey has leukemia. This is a big change in Steven's life. From that day, he loves his brother because he knows that his brother will be faced with the bad thing in his life. He also loves his parents even he at the beginning he didn’t.
This story reminds me of my family, especially my sister, when we were young we always argued and we realize that we love each other when we don’t have time and live together. Sometimes we didn’t pay attention and love people around us because we think that is normal and we regret it when we lost them, so give the love to everyone as much as we can! And family is a special place that always protects and loves you without any reason!


message 16: by Diana (new)

Diana | 31 comments Yao wrote: "• The book has a big turning point in the end. It makes me sad and happy at the same time. Thirteen-year-old Steven has a getting-me-in-trouble brother Jeffrey who diagnoses with leukemia. After th..."

Yao, I agree with on Steven grows up from the beginning to the end. I believe a great appreciation going to the adults around him (the school staff). These adults did a great job of identifying, addressing, and finding a solution to the problem (Steven's grades). They respected Stevens's feelings and helped him the best way they could, given the situation.


message 17: by Diana (new)

Diana | 31 comments Natalie wrote: "Lisa wrote: "A family tries to hold it all together when an unexpected illness comes to the family."

This wasn't my favorite book from our list, but it was an easy read. I really appreciate how th..."


I feel the same way, this book wasn't one of my favorites. The book was sad, however I really didn't feel the voice through the words. It was a good book, just not for me.


message 18: by ThaoTam (new)

ThaoTam  Nguyen  | 46 comments Diana wrote: "This novel is a great introduction for a preteen life or a situation like Jeffrey. The novel is a smooth read, an eye-opener for friendships, and sweet.
For me, this novel was spotty, like the tim..."


Hi Diana!
I also like the message of the book " Instead of agonizing about the things you can't change, work on the things you CAN change". Some times,in our life we meet unacceptable things, and we should flexible to think differently .And i highly respect the love of family in the story. When people face with problem, they realize how love that they give to other members in their family


message 19: by ThaoTam (new)

ThaoTam  Nguyen  | 46 comments Lourdes wrote: "This is a sad story, but it is an important subject to make people aware of how a serious illness can invade and changes an ordinary life in ways that demand changes and adaptations to face it. I l..."

Hi Lourdes!
i really like your feeling about the book. When people faced with challenges or difficult problems in their life, people become mature like Steven in the story. After he knows that his brother has cancer, he becomes a real brother!


message 20: by Jackie (new)

Jackie Olalde | 44 comments Lourdes wrote: "This is a sad story, but it is an important subject to make people aware of how a serious illness can invade and changes an ordinary life in ways that demand changes and adaptations to face it. I l..."

Hi Lourdes,

I completely agree. I know that it is sad to know that Steven and Samantha's friendship is very short-lived, but I'm glad of the growth that Steven was able to make, especially at his young age. That quote stood out to me as well. I think it can be easy to focus on the bad or things that we can't change, but he saw the other part of that.


message 21: by Jackie (new)

Jackie Olalde | 44 comments ThaoTam wrote: "Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick
This story touched my heart because the love in the story: that is the love of the family, the love of a teenager to his younger brother( he pla..."


Hi Thao,

I think back to when I was growing up; it is easy to forget how fortunate we are to have our family together. We can get caught up in the little things that annoy us but also reminded me of how thankful I am for my family and grateful that we are healthy.


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