Friday, June 15, 2007

More Beach Reading

Besides The Higher Power of Lucky (see below) I have read three other books by the beach this week. Ive also visited a couple of used book stores where I've enlarged my collection of field guides and such.
Two other kids' books I enjoyed were The Report Card by Andrew Clements and The Teacher's Funeral by Richard Peck.

The Report Card is the tale of an extremely gifted eleven-year-old, who, to avoid embarrassment, has hidden her genius since toddlerhood -- even from her parents and closest friends. In fifth grade, to avenge her friend's persecution as "retarded' and to demonstrate the absurdity of the current "everything depends on the BIG TEST" movement, she deliberately makes poor grades and even fails several tests.

Even though I heartily approve of heaping scorn upon the over-emphasis on testing, I found this book only mildly entertaining and not up to the standards of Clements' A Week in the Woods or Frindle.

Click the pic to read the first chapter.

The Teacher's Funeral, subtitled A Comedy in Three Parts, is wonderful. The writing is crisp and picturesque, peopled with fascinating, believable characters that I came to care about. It reminds me of reading Ferrol Sams or even Mark Twain or Lucy Maud Montgomery... or maybe Garrison Kiellor. I have been introduced to unforgettable characters. I hope Peck will use these guys again.

His first paragraph, in the voice of the protagonist, a reluctant scholar, grabbed me immediately:
If your teacher has to die, August isn't a bad time of year for it. You know August. The corn is earring. The tomatoes are ripening on the vine. The clover's in full bloom. There's a little less evening now, and that's a warning. You want to live each day twice over because you'll be back in the jailhouse of school before the end of the month.

Click the pic to read the first chapter.

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