Tag Archives: geeks

Everybody likes an Underdog

28 Sep

Right from the first page I had a feeling I was going to like Elvis and the Underdogs by Jenny Lee.


I also had a sense, right from the start, that this would be a perfect 4th grade read aloud. Both feelings stayed with me right to the end. This is a really fun read that doesn’t seem to be getting much attention.

Benji is a small sickly boy who is often picked on by the school bully. After a serious seizure he has 2 options: wear the world’s ugliest green helmet or get a therapy dog. What arrives at his house is a massive Newfoundland who can speak, though only Benji can hear him. Parker Elvis Pembroke IV informs Benji that a terrible mistake has been made. he was supposed to be sent to the White House. While the adults are trying to correct the mistake, Benji and Elvis become friends, get into and out of some trouble and help Benji end his pack.

You can check out  the book at  http://elvisandtheunderdogs.com/ or at your local library like I did.

This one is definitely on my list for the teacher read aloud club.

Kids I’d like to teach

2 Aug

I have always enjoyed teaching quirky, no-traditional kids. I was sort of a quirky kid myself, so I like to think I have an affinity for them. They aren’t always easy and their lives aren’t always happy, but  I love how they look at the world.   Here are a few of the quirky characters I would love to teach:

1. Clementine, from the series by Sarah Pennypacker

2. Fred & George Weasley

3. Ferdinand the Bull

4. Alvin Ho

5. Olivia, from the series by Ian Falconer

6. Nicholas, from the series by Rene Goscinny

7. Anne Shirley

The newest one I’d add to my list is Danielle from  OCD, The Dude, and Me by Lauren Roedy Vaughn.


Danielle chronicles the highs and lows her senior year through her  Me-moir, a collection of class assignments, journal entries, emails and letters to the school psychologist. She struggles with all the things high school students experience: unrequited love, body-image issues,insecurities about her  social standing. And this lands her in the school psych’s office and, perish the thought, a social skills class in a church basement.

Fortunately, Danielle is surrounded by supportive adults, and she gets along with them far batter than she does with her peers. Her parents get her and are actively involved in her life. Her Aunt Joyce is the Aunt every kids wishes they had and her English teacher, who seems cold at first, really seems to understand and like her . Danielle even makes a friend of an eighty year old English tour guide. This is not a story where adults are absent, and that is part of the appeal of the book.

The book is funny, poignant and heart-breaking at times.

Winger: Top of the library pile

11 Jul

Because I spent 10 days focused on knitting the “Kiss Me, Hardy” Pullover, I now have a giant stack of library books and a great dilemma. Which do I read first?  Since I am mostly a logical person, I have sorted them by due date and Winger by Andrew Smith, rose to the top.


Ryan Dean West is a 14-year-old ruby-playing junior at a private school. He plays rugby and has bait of  a potty mouth. We meet him at the beginning of the story, as two football players are attempting to dunk his head in a toilet. I’d heard a bit of a buzz about this book, so although it began with typical teenage boy dialogue and hijinx, I suspected it would be worth reading. Ryan Dean is really likable and I couldn’t put the book down. Andrew Smith lets us see into the mind of a teenage boy. What’s there is disgusting, funny and sensitive. Like all of us, Ryan Dean is trying to fit in and figure out the world, It is rare that I laugh out loud and cry at a book, but I did both with this one. By the end, all  could say was “WOW”!

I don’t want to give too many details & spoil it, but you should read this one. It reminded me of Spud by John Van de Ruit,


which came out 5 or 6 years ago, and which left me feeling the same way. If you haven’t read that one, it is also worth your while.


The Mighty Lalouche: A Mighty Fine Book

5 Jun



You must read  The Mighty Lalouche, written by Matthew Olshan and illustrated by Sophie Blackall.

Laloche is a postman with nimble hands, fast legs and strong arms. He lives in Paris with his beloved finch, Geneviève. When he loses his  job to modern technology, he is desperate to find a job that will keep Geneviève in the manner to which she has become accustomed. Then one day he sees a sign asking 3 very important questions:




And thus, Lalouche becomes a sparring partner at a boxing club, even though he is small and rather bony. The mayhem he cause is the wring is sensational as is the message about doing what you love.

The illustrations are knockouts! Sophie Blackall has completely captured  France during the Third Republic.  The details as he adds are exquisite. You can see how she did it at her blog:  Sophie Blackall.




Nerds and Bullies

9 May

Let me start by saying I embrace my nerdiness and pretty much always have. I have a twin & she & I were born opposites. As we grew, it was clear that she was the outgoing sporty twin;  I was the painfully shy,  bookish twin. So shy was I that I almost didn’t get to start kindergarten with my sister. They thought I might meed another year to mature socially.  Fortunately, I loved school & did very well.  In fact, school helped me overcome my shyness and gave me a confidence I lacked. This explains my decision in high school to join the Reach for the top team.


I bring all this up because of The reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen by Susin Neilsen.


Henry’s brother was bullied, snapped and committed a terrible crime. Henry begins high school at a school where no one knows who he is and reluctantly joins their Reach for the Top team. This is an awesome book you should read.

So, I  got to thinking about other books I love that deal with nerds and bullies.  here are a few:

1. Everybody Sees the Ants by A. S. King  (Bullies)


2. The View from Saturday by E. L. Konigsburg (Nerds)


3. The Hate List by Jennifer Brown (Bullies)


4. Howay for Wodney Wat  by Helen Lester (Bullies & Nerds)


5. Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt (Bullies)


6. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (Nerds)


7. The Cardturner  by Louis Sachar (Nerds)


8. The Fingers of Duncan Dorfman by Meg Wolitzer


Which titles would you add?

%d bloggers like this: