Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Harlem Hustle by Janet McDonald

Just as the nominations for the 2008 Rhode Island Teen Book Awards were closing, I picked up Harlem Hustle by Janet McDonald to add to the list. Her previous books have all been well-liked by most teens. Previously I've read Brother Hood which I liked and this one didn't disappoint.

The story of Eric Samson, a would-be rapper who just spent time in juvenile detention and doesn't plan to return has to figure out what to do with his life. His parents are long gone and he is living off the kindness of his friend's family. Clearly Hustle, as he likes to be called, is trying to do the right thing but it's so tempting to go back to stealing.

That is, until he starts to get serious about his writing. He begins working on his rhymes wherever he goes and finally things start to fall into place for him.

Monday, January 08, 2007

New Moon by Stephenie Meyer

I started out on a road trip to New Hampshire yesterday with the audiobook of New Moon by Stephenie Meyer in the CD player. I had forgotten how strong the characters created by the author are and the romantic relationship between Bella, a high school senior who has just turned 18, and her boyfriend, Edward.

He is a bit older than her, um, maybe a hundred years older but since he's a vampire, no one can tell. Yes, falling in love with a vampire is tough on a girl. People always talk about the differences between men and women well, the Mars & Venus comparison is nothing when you think about the fact that she is human, for example, and he is immortal!

Everyone I know who read Meyer's first book Twilight absolutely fell in love with these characters so I'm guessing the sequel is just as strong. Even if you're like me and you've never been into vampire stories, all I can say is: Read this book!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

To Sir, With Love by E.R. Braithwaite

When my oldest son was a junior in high school taking British Literature, he had to read To Sir, With Love by E.R. Braithwaite. All I knew about this book was that a movie had been made based on, along with the film's ubiquitous title song, sung by Lulu.

The book is based on the life of the author who as an unemployed engineer takes a job at a tough school in London's East End. After losing his temper at the students one day, he returns with a different approach, he insists they treat him with respect and he will do the same for them. Although the film with its music and clothes makes the story seem very dated, it's a pretty timeless tale and one that was retold by author Frank McCourt in the third installment of his life story entitled Teacher Man. McCourt tells about teaching in a vocational high school in NY in the 1950s so it's a close parallel to Braithwaite's story.

Last night we watched the movie and were struck by the fact that the title song is used not once, not twice, but three times in the film! Seems a bit excessive but it was a different time and place, I s'pose.