Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Gospel According to Larry

Sorry for the delay in getting this posted...I had everything ready to go early and was going to "publish" on the date I sent everyone...but with the holiday etc...I forgot!!! We're touring Pittsburgh for a few days and in the middle of the Andy Wharhol museum I remember I didn't post this! Thank goodness for hotel internet access. So here we go!!!

Can't wait to hear what everyone thought! I originally read this book a few years ago and was immediately intrigued by the premise...the author as a character in the novel- claiming to be stopped in a grocery store by a young man with a story he wanted told. I worried that students wouldn't understand the premise...but those students that I've recommended it to over the years were fine with it...the book has been a hit with anyone who read it.

What I loved most about this book were the messages about our culture and its obsession with consumerism, materialism, celebrities, and a general lack of global concern and activism. I think this is something to which our students definitely need to be exposed. I also loved the parallel story line about Beth- Josh's secret love. The story was face paced and exciting...and I loved the format the author used- the footnotes, sermons and pictures of his possessions were very effective. My only concern with this novel...and to be honest it wasn't a concern when I first read the book...but I later thought the bible passages could be an issue to some folks. Curious to see what you thought? In fact the first time I read this book I was so enthralled with the story line I didn't even make note of the passages until someone pointed them out to me!

I found the character of Josh to be both endearing and intriguing. Who wouldn't love a kid whose mother had to tell him, "no science homework after dinner" to get him to behave? And I really like how he goes to Bloomingdales to talk to his Mom! Josh's voice is clear and clever and has tremendous teen-appeal.

There is a sequel to this book I would highly recommend to anyone interested, this is titled Larry for President. I actually think I liked the sequel better...if that's possible!

I enjoyed this book on many levels- I thought the writing was sharp and funny, I was taken in by the characters, but I was mostly impressed with the messages: What do people need to live happy lives? Why are we so wrapped up in material possessions? Is our obsession with ME ME ME irreversible? Are activism and volunteering a lost causes? Maybe this book could spur discussion groups to discuss these issues. As Tashjian shows, there's plenty to talk about.


Monday, November 06, 2006

Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher

Welcome to the first of our blog discussions! The first book up for discussion is Chris Crutcher's Whale Talk. Many of you beat me to the comments! Sorry I was slow in getting the first/starter post going...we had some folks who joined in late and just got copies of the book and I wanted to make sure everyone had a chance to catch up before we got started. looks like we are good to go.

I thought I would start off by sharing with you why I selected this book to start. Chris Crutcher is one of my favorite authors and I think he "speaks" to young people in a very real voice. His characters are like so many of the kids that walk our halls- so many teens can identify with them. His insight into young people's lives comes from his experiences as a director of an alternative school and from his 20 years as a counselor to troubled he has a lot to draw from! Also, when I selected this title it was "Banned Book Week" and all of Chris Crutcher's books have been censored or challenged at one time. I thought this was a timely choice!

I loved reading everyone's comments- and agree with many of them. Chris K. hit onto one of the topics that really bothered me...why the football jocks were so against Chris wearing his brother's jacket??!! I first read the book years ago and I remember that bothered me long after I finished the book...and it bothered me again when I read it the second time through. Glad I wasn't the only one.

I thought Rebecca's comment about Crutcher perhaps tackling too much in just one book was on target. There were time when it was tough to keep track of who had what issue. But I agree (and several people made this comment) that the book did give an accurate account of cliques in schools. I loved TJ for bucking the system. Nothing like a good underdog to get me cheering. And again, I agree that this is something students need to see more of- perhaps to provide inspiration. But on the positive side to a lot going on in one novel...there was a variety of characters for students to identify with.

I think TJ learns a lot about himself and his leadership abilities during this experience. I think Amanda's comments about what we can control in our lives is also very telling..."there is so much we can't control, there is power in knowing that you can control your own thoughts, actions, and conceptions of others." I think TJ really learns this "life lesson."

I know there are a few more folks out there who have to "blog in" and if you've already commented feel free to respond to others comments.

Monday, October 23, 2006

YA Book Discussion Blog

Welocome! The first book we will be reading and "discussing" is Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher. We are hoping to begin our online discussion of this book on November 3rd...look for the "starter" blog to be posted shortly before that date.

Happy Reading!