The Rundown- October ’16

frindleFrindle by Andrew Clements (new read)

This is another book I had never heard of before this list. I am somewhat familiar with the author though.

Nick Allen loves to, as the back blurb of the book says “liven things up” at school. It may be in the form of a prank, or it may just be his epic ability to lead teachers on a tangent. However, his fifth grade teacher is a no-nonsense kind of woman, so he has to think especially hard to figure out what to do. He finally decides on creating a new word, frindle, and embarks on a quest to spread it to his fellow classmates. Did I mention his new teacher loves the dictionary? His plan soon escapes his reach though and we see the ramifications.

I enjoyed this book a good bit, and flew through rather quickly. I think there’s some good messages in it about perseverance and believing in yourself. It also shows the powerful relationship that can occur between a teacher and a student, in many different ways.

I would say this book skews toward the younger end of the list and I’m not sure kids would want to read it much past elementary school.

VERDICT: I don’t really think that this book should be on the best 100 young adult book list. It’s a good book, but I just don’t think it packs the punch of some of the other titles.

**Click HERE to see Ashley’s take on this book!**

The Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo (new read) 510g3ts61jl-_sx334_bo1204203200_

I can say one thing for Kate DiCamillo: she is a very imaginative storyteller. I was eager to read this after enjoying her other entry on the list, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. However, I found that this shared much more in common with her first book, Because of Winn Dixie.

Rob and his father live at a Florida motel after Rob’s mother passes away from cancer. His father forbids him to ever talk about her or even mention her name. In addition to that, Rob has a skin condition that draws unwanted attention from others and he is forced to stay home from school. Needless to say, he doesn’t really have any friends, until one day he meets a girl named Sistine. That also happens to be the same day he discovers a caged tiger in the woods behind the hotel. Coincidence?

What a strange little book. The imagery DiCamillo conjures is breathtaking, but odd. I was certainly invested in the characters and what was going to happen to them. It stirred up lots of emotions, both good and bad. The best part of this story though, for me, comes from the title of the book. I can’t really tell much without spoiling some of the story, but it’s parallel to some advice that Rob is given in the book that is just beautiful!

VERDICT: This one is a toss-up for me. I certainly liked it, and I would encourage others to read it. I just don’t know if it screams “best of.” Why don’t you give it a try and let me know what you think?

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang (new read)

51zcs5bmbyl-_sy344_bo1204203200_I gotta say, I wasn’t looking forward to this one when I found out it was a graphic novel. After reading it though, my outlook completely changed!

This book tells three different stories: the first is of Jin, the only Chinese American student at his school before another boy from Taiwan moves there and tries to befriend him. The second story is about Danny, an All American boy whose Chinese cousin comes to visit and effectively destroys his life. The third tale is about the Monkey King, who has mastered many disciplines and wants to take his rightly place with the highly immortal. All three characters feel isolated for different reasons, and must reach out for help to get out of their situations. The three stories intertwine beautifully at the end.

The themes of stereotypes and isolation are woven throughout. In each story, we see how the characters are treated and perceived based on their heritage. It brings to light unpleasant truths in a palatable manner. This selection is certainly for the older end of young adults, but I think it’s more likely to reach people in this format. It was so easy to read!

VERDICT: The Asian point of view is sorely underrepresented on this list and I think this entry effectively shares it. It made this reader think about the portrayals I’ve seen and how they’ve shaped my opinions. I thought this was a great book and definitely agree with its inclusion on the list. I can’t wait to read Yan’s other entry for this challenge!

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The Rundown- September ’16

4115psz4mgl-_sy344_bo1204203200_Boyproof by Cecil Castellucci (new read)

This one was completely new to the point that I never even heard of it before this list came out. It didn’t take long to see why.

Boyproof is the story of Egg, a science fiction obsessed misfit who has little room in her life for boys, or anybody for that matter. She takes her name from the lead character of her favorite movie, Terminal Earth, and dresses as closely to her as she can get away with. One day, she meets a guy named Max and starts to wonder if all of her thinking has been wrong.

Don’t get me wrong, I thought this book was fun to read. It was written in a diary format, so all the events were in easily digestable chunks. It was also set in Los Angeles, where both of Egg’s parents were in the movie industry. That led to frequent pop culture references and talk about their work, which I loved, of course!

However, this book was SO predictable. You can probably already tell from my brief synopsis what’s going to happen. For better or worse, it’s worth noting.

VERDICT: Cute book, but I have no idea what it’s doing on a “Best of” list.

 

Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry by Mildred D. Taylor (reread) 

rollofthunder1This is a book I remember liking as a young girl, but I mostly remembered the sentiment and overall theme, not much about the plot.

Upon reading this as an adult, I LOVED it. I wish that every person in America would stop what they are doing right now and read it. That is not an exaggeration. The point of view represented in this story is so needed right now and would give many people insight into what they still don’t seem to understand.

The story is told from the point of view of Cassie Logan, a 9 year old black girl living in Mississippi in the early 1930’s. She lives with her parents, three brothers, and grandmother. We see the Logan family in their day to day life– the challenges they face at school, at home, even in their attempts to buy things that are required to live.

As I saw someone mention online, we read and hear lots about slavery, and the civil rights movement, but we don’t always study much about the in between. This story enlightens much of that era, and it’s not always pretty.

VERDICT:  I can say, without hesitation, that this book should be included on the list. I even venture to say it should be considered in the top ten. The important subject matter, little heard point of view, and well written prose all warrant its inclusion.

**I couldn’t let the Logan family go after just one book. I also reread the two novels that succeed this one: Let the Circle Be Unbroken and The Road to Memphis. I was able to reread my own 20+ year old copy of the latter. By the end, Cassie is a 17 year old young woman, and it’s amazing to read the transformation. The saga is alternately heartbreaking and uplifting, and I’m so glad I was able to reread these with fresh eyes.