On the blog:
- A curation of the best of my online reading last week
- A slice about my son’s concussion
- A metaslice trying–and failing–to take apart the slice about my son’s concussion
- A slice about what happened at the emergency room
- A slice using the popular blog meme format, Currently
- A slice about Mornings
- Some advice on How to Write More (how I’m writing more this month during the Slice of Life Story Challenge!)
With all that writing, there wasn’t a lot of time for reading–or at least not for finishing. But I did read two books to my son. (Concussions are good for one thing: reading aloud time!)
Varian Johnson’s heist series really does feel like Ocean’s 11 for the middle-grade set–and that’s both a good thing and a bad thing. The good: engaging diverse cast of characters; sharp writing; unexpected plot twists. The bad: such a convoluted and difficult-to-follow plot. There’s a lot of tech talk in this one, which went completely over my head and bogged the action of the story down. (Lots of talk about computer files and programs and hacks.) I continue to enjoy the characters, but didn’t love this book as much as I’d hoped to. Still, I think most middle-grade readers who liked The Great Greene Heist will want to read this one too.
I really loved Jennifer Brown’s middle-grade novel, How Lunchbox Jones Saved Me from Robots, Traitors, and Missy the Cruel. I think the main draw is the voice of Luke, the main character, whose preferred after-school activity, playing video games, has been interrupted by forced participation on his school’s robotics team. An unlikely group of students has been recruited for the team, including Luke’s old grade-school nemesis, Missy the Cruel, and Lunchbox Jones, an intimidating (and usually silent) boy about whom violent rumors swirl. Luke has plenty to juggle on the team, but there are also some home issues to deal with: his relationship with his beloved older brother is nearly broken by his brother’s decision to “turn traitor,” abandon Luke, and join the Marines. All of the characters are well-drawn and fully rounded (with the exception, perhaps, of two sets of grandparents who are played for laughs). The story has heart and emotional depth. There is the mystery of Lunchbox Jones to figure out. And of course the relationship with Luke’s brother that needs to be repaired. By turns poignant and laugh-out-loud funny, this one’s a winner. (And a terrific read-aloud!) Plus, robotics!