Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson

I've liked this book for a long time, and I give it a rating of five out of five. Gilly is a foster child, and her only wish is to live with her mother. Because of this attitude, Gilly is a very difficult foster child. She tries her best to be as bad as she can be so that she'll be sent back to her mom. Gilly swears, is prejudiced, steals, fights, and is insulting. She terrorizes her foster brother, W.E., and verbally abuses her "friend" Agnes. She tries to run away, but things really change when she writes a letter to her mom describing the terrible foster home she's been put into. Actually, Gilly's foster mother,Mamie Trotter, is the most loving and kind person that Gilly will ever meet. As the plot unfolds in this book, I'm reminded of the old saying, "Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it."

This book has wonderful, descriptive language; and I'm not talking about Gilly's mild profanity. I enjoy the character development and the way Gilly changes throughout the plot. The reader will probably hate her in the beginning but feel sorry for her in the end. It's amusing to be in Gilly's mind as she faces the other characters and deals with situations. Trotter, W.E., Agnes, and Mr. Randolph are excellent supporting characters and help Gilly learn about the meaning of family.

Lexile level from 800

Monday, May 10, 2010

Lucky: Maris, Mantle, and My Best Summer Ever by Wes Tooke

This is a historical fiction novel, and I gave it a rating of four out of five. Louis is a miserable stick-ball player with a mean stepbrother, but he has an awesome baseball card collection. His summer fate changes when he becomes a bat boy for the 1961 New York Yankees, the year Roger Maris breaks Babe Ruth's home run record. Louis is befriended by Maris and Micky Mantle, and he becomes Maris' gook luck charm. In addition to Louis' problems with his step-family and off-beat, seldom-seen mother, he feels responsible for Maris losing his lucky baseball mitt. He teams up with his stepbrother to get the mitt back and help Maris break the home run record.

Although I gave this book a rating of four, I know it will probably appeal to a select audience. I enjoyed it because I enjoy baseball, I know the players mentioned throughout the book, and I once collected baseball cards. People with step-families can probably identify with some of the issues too. The main plot conflicts deal with Louis and his family and the problems encountered by the pro athletes. I liked the locker room stories with the baseball players. Despite chasing the home run record with Mantle, Maris was hated by the New York fans. This book deals with that issue and describes how the players handled reporters and the media. It's a fun, easy-to-read book for baseball fans.

Lexile level from 860