Monday, January 25, 2010

Slam Dunk by Robert Hirschfeld (Matt Christopher)

I gave this book a rating of 3 out of 5. It was very easy to read, and I finished it in one sitting. The main character is concerned that his new basketball team will not be as good as his state championship team from the year before. Because of this, he comes to the first few practices with a bad attitude. He doesn't hustle and doesn't try to make friends with his new teammates. This is the main conflict of the story. An injured teammate from the year before ends up giving him the inspriation to change his attitude and make this year's team better.

This is a nice book for people who enjoy basketball. The plot is not hard to follow, so it's easy to read. The author explains some basketball terms (pick and roll, zone defense, etc.) during the practices that readers may, or may not, appreciate. The lesson taught in this book is a valuable one that all readers can appreciate. We need to accept change and give people a chance.

The Fighting Ground by Avi

I gave this book a rating of 3 out of 5. It's a nice historical fiction about the revolutionary war. A thirteen-year-old boy wants to join the army to fight the British and Hessians, but his parents don't want him to. The boy sneaks away and joins a group of people who are going to intercept some enemy soldiers. The group meets the enemy, and the boy learns what it's really like to be in a war. He ends up getting captured and questioning who's really the enemy in this conflict.

The book was fairly short and easy to follow. The plot and characterization weren't very developed which made it easier to understand, but not as entertaining. The book deals with a realistic aspect of war rather than the glorification of killing.

Lexile level from 580

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Hit the Road by Caroline Cooney

I gave this book a rating of four out of five. Brit's parents are going on a trip to Alaska, so they plan for her to stay with Grandma while they're gone. The plot evolves as Brit's 86-year old grandmother already had plans to run away to a reunion with her friends. Brit ends up driving the car, even though she only has two weeks of practice driving experience with her parents. This lends itself to many humorous moments as Brit tries to control the car, her cell phone, her grandmother and friends, and still follow directions to their destinations. The actual conflict surrounds one of Grandma's friends, whose son is trying to steal all of her money. The police and lawyers get involved, and it appears to them as though Brit may be a kidnapper and a thief. The author manages to keep the reader hanging for the climax to the plot until the last few pages of the book.

I enjoyed the unusual plot to this book, and Brit has problems just any teenager. She's torn about her decision to help her grandmother, and this problem remains an internal conflict throughout most of the book. The major concern some readers may have is that much of the setting is in a rental car. This limits the "action" of the plot, but the story's conflict isn't about action. The plot involves a greedy son's plan to manipulate doctors and lawyers to get his mother committed to a hospital, so he can steal her freedom and the millions of dollars she's saved over her lifetime.

Lexile level from 790