High School Fiction


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.

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.

If someone saved your life would you do anything to help them?  Would you let a pint sized spirit (dybbuk) live inside of you (for a little while) so he can get the truth out of a German soldier who killed him and other defenseless children?  What if your girlfriend threatens to call off the marriage because she thinks you are acting too strange?  What if the dybbuk steals your spotlight as you entertain audiences as a ventrioquist?  Would you want an exorcism?  

The Dybbuk has a name.  It is Avrom.  Because Avrom knows the truth, he feels he must share that truth with as many people as possible.  He needs a body in order to accomplish his mission.  Freddy has a career as a ventrioquist but it seems to be at a standstill since he can learn to talk without moving his mouth. 

If they work together can both of them succeed?

Even though this is a book with a ghost, it is not a mystery.  It is not even scary.  It is funny, light, and powerful all at the same time. 

Sid Fleischman uses humor, an interesting plot, along with true facts about the holocaust to present a message that needs to be remembered.

For ages 9-adult

For ages 9-adult

“What-the-Dickens” are the first words the newborn creature heard, and assumed that was his name.  His lack of information came from the fact that he is an orphan.  What-the-Dickens thinks he is alone a world he doesn’t understand.  Bravely, he does his best to get adopted by a cat.  When that doesn’t work out he finds himself in a tiger’s mouth examining a sore tooth.  One day the creature sees a someone who looks like he does and can fly like he does.  It is a skibbereen (tooth fairy) going about her business of exchanging teeth for money.  What-the-Dickens finally has someone who can tell him about himself, but she wants nothing to do with him.  So goes the story Gage tells to his cousins in the middle of a terrifying storm.  As the story grows more suspenseful, the children are able to put aside their fears and concentrate on the troubles What-the-Dickens finds himself confronting.  This is really two stories in one. The author is skilled at getting the reader to the edge of one story and weaving the other story back into the readers mind in surprising ways.  While the children deal with the lack of electrical power, adequate food, and howling winds, the skiddereen have to deal with a harsh assignment given as punishment for allowing What-the-Dickens to enter the secret colony of fairies.  The two stories intersect when Gage tells how he met What-the-Dickens and his friend Pepper on the night of this secret assignment.

 

Oh my, what can I say about this book?  It is the hardest and easiest book to read.  It is easy to read because the sentences are short and it is told through a young girls words.  It is hard to read because I know there are young girls experiencing this situation even today.  It is the story of a young girl in India who is sold by her stepfather.  She thinks she is going to the city which she has never seen to be a maid.  She accepts this situation with grace and dignity.  But the buyers want more than a cleaning woman.  She is sold into prostitution.  The story is tastefully told with the young girls feelings well expressed.  This book is emotionally very powerful.  Because of the mature content I would not recommend it to students below high school level.  But, parents might feel their junior high students could handle the book.  Discussion of this book might help change the world situation. 

There is so much to admire about the writing in this book.  The joy and happiness of a Lakshmi’s life in India is seen along with the poverty of her village.  The dignity of her mother is contrasted with the stepfather who deserves no admiration.  Lakshmi’s life is simple and  her trip to the city exposes her to things she has never seen or known. (electricy, televisions etc)  Her innocence is sharply contrasted with the adults who traffic in human beings for a living.  The worked she if forced to do is contrasted with the kindness of people caught in the same trap.  In the end Lakshmi’s courage shapes her future. 

National Book Award Finalist