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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Specials, Scrambled Eggs at Midnight, and Eagle Blue

Well, so far I've read three books over the break, at least one of which was not on my list...

Specials - this is the third book in the Scott Westerfeld trilogy which at one point I just wanted to throw out the window. I had had enough of Tally and her bubbly bad choices. She was NOT the character I wanted her to be, and I was getting tired of her. That sometimes happens to me when I read a bunch of books in a series in succession. BUT, I have to say, Tally was redeemed for me in the end, and I was so glad I stuck with it. Really glad. It didn't turn out like I expected, but it was good. I'm kind of thinking there might be a companion novel in the future, but well have to wait and see. I definitely recommend reading all three of these books. Scott Westerfeld really did a nice job tying them all together and up.

Next on my list was Scrambled Eggs at Midnight by Brad Barkley and Heather Hepler which I bought for the library after reading about it in one of my reviewing journals. It's a great read. It's one of those books where one chapter is told from a girl's point of view (Calliope, or Cal) and the next is told from the boy's (Eliot). Both of these kids have a lot going on with their parents - Cal seems to be more of a grown-up than her mom a lot of the time and Eliot's parents are having difficulties in their marriage - and they find each other just at the time when they both really need a friend. Of course if you go around with green lips, which Eliot had when he first met Cal, it might explain WHY you need a friend...Most of the time Eliot seems WAY more mature than most high school guys, more mature than half the adult guys I know, actually, and Cal's mom's solution to their problems in the end is a bit unbelievable, but overall it's a story that deals with a lot of real issues in a not too heavy way, interspersing a lot of humor into the story. I liked this book a lot and I'd recommend it to 7th and 8th graders especially.

The third book I read is a fabulous non-fiction piece called Eagle Blue by Michael D'Orso. This is a sports story, but it's also a story of a culture, a land, a people. Michael D'Orso spent several months up in Fort Yukon, Alaska (a few hundred miles north of Fairbanks), following a high school basketball team from their opening practice of the season all the way through the state championship games. It's a fascinating look at a place most of us will never even visit, let alone live. A place where there are only 32 kids in the whole high school, and 21 of them play basketball. A place where the temperature is below freezing for months at a time and it's dark nearly all day in the winter. Spending so much time with this team, D'Orso was really able to capture this small community and does a remarkable job of making these people come alive. There are lots of cultural insights to the native way of life in this small community, both good and bad. And the writing about basketball is really exciting. He gives just enough play by play to keep it interesting but not enough so that you want to skip theses sections. Of course it helps that many of Fort Yukon's games are really exciting. Gregory Lum, the Jesuit High librarian recommended this book to me, and it is really excellent, so now I'm recommending it to you. This is non-fiction, so it's a more challenging reading level than many fiction books, but it is not yet lexiled. I'm planning to get this book for our library soon, but in the meantime you can find it at the Multnomah County Library.

Three down, three hundred to go...

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