November 2008


This book could have been written about many of the young men who attend our school. We have many students with a great sense of humor.  Sometimes that sense of humor gets them into trouble.  Joey is a prankster.  He is constantly dreaming up practiacal jokes and schemes.  Rusty on the other hand is a bit more reserved but goes along with Joey’s ideas (when he gets over the shock of them.)  Rusty and Joey  keep the truth of their adventures secret with a handshake and a “swear to howdy” promise. 

Besides the pranks, Rusty and Joey share other situations.  Both boys have sisters they find difficult.  The boys have their way of getting revenge for how the sisters act.  How a  frog got in a sisters underwear drawer is just one of the secrets the boys keep. But, on a more serious side, Joey has a father who is more than a little difficult.  Throughout the book, Joey struggles with understanding the relationship between Rusty and his dad. 

When Joey comes up with a splendid prank, Rusty follows his lead and soon both boys find themselves living with tragic results.  The secret is too important to be told and but too devestasting to hide.  Now, there is a true test of friendship.  What would a friend do to help?

I laughed out loud at the antics of Joey and Rusty for about three fourths of this book.  I especially liked the bullfrog.  The last quarter of the book I was spellbound as the boys worked out their difficulties.  Wendelin Van Draanen (of the Sammy Keys series) did an excellent job of letting the characters tell the story without preaching or talking down to young adults.  This book will go on my list of favorites to give to students when they need a good book.    Although the characters are thirteen, I think even high school students would enjoy and appreciate this book.  I would recommend it for any student 12 or older.

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Tears of a Tiger is a story that is too farmiliar in many schools in our country.  A high school basketball captain and his friends are celebrating after a winning the game.  The celebration involves alcohol and a car.  The scene is set for tragedy.  Andy is the driver whose reckless behavior kills his best friend.  Tears of a Tiger takes the reader inside the guilt ridden life of Andy as he tries to get his life back in order.  Nothing seems the same.  Why did he live while Robert died?  How can life really go on when his friend is lying in the cold ground?  Andy tries reaching out but thinks he should be able to handle everything on his own.  The story is told in many ways and from many different characters’s viewpoints.  English essays, letters from students, newspapers all help the reader see and hear the life of the teenage students.  Without giving away the ending, I will say the ending was too quick for me.  It seemed a bit rushed.  I knew it was coming but I still was not ready for what came.  I think many teens will like this book.