Wednesday, November 2, 2016



YA fiction
I made a great library discovery. Kwame Alexander's Booked is
perfect for the young men we mistakenly label reluctant readers.
Sports are woven into the plot. The format of free form verse not
only can be much more appealing than pages dense with solid print, but
allows for the no frills directness many boys think and speak in.

"The expression 'to nip something in the bud'
Is an example of what, Nicholas?

Uh to nip it in the butt
Is an example of
How to get slapped by a girl, you reply,
As confused
As a chameleon
In a bag
Of gummy worms,
Which sends
Almost everyone
In class
Into fits
Of contagious snickering.

Everone except
Ms. Hardwick."

Nicholas (also you--the story is narrated in second person)
lives in what he calls a prison of words. His father is a word
obsessed linguistics professor who has him reading through the whole
dictionary. He has come to hate words, resenting his dad's demands
for verbal perfection. He's also not at all fond of Mrs. Hardwick's
honors English class where he specializes in pretending to listen. He
likes spending time with his best friend, Coby. He lives for and is
very good at playing soccer.
One night at supper there is too much quiet around the table.
Nicholas knows something isn't right. Sure enough his father calls
him into the living room. His parents have a big announcement: they
are going their separate ways.

"For the rest of the week
your head aches
your stomach's a wreck
your parents are clueless
you fall asleep in class
you fail the math test
you're too scared to talk to April
and you're trapped
in a cage of misery
with freedom
nowhere in sight.

If not for soccer,
what'd be the point?"

Soccer, however, is not always the safe refuge Nicholas needs it
to be. And there are other complications in his life including twin
bullies who have it in for him.
This fast paced coming-of-age narrative is a must acquire for
public, middle school, and high school libraries. It will resonate
with many YA readers struggling to deal with the less than great hands
life is dealing them.
On a personal note, I attended the celebration of Paul Lucey's
life. It was amazing. First people had a chance to look at pictures
and special objects from Paul's life. There were sandwiches and
pastries and beverages. Then when the program started family and
friends were sitting around tables, a much better arrangement than in
pews. His daughter Gloria shared memories. His granddaughter read
one of the short stories he had written. Then people who wanted to
could share memories. I had written something. I was thrilled to see
how many people who had stories to share. It was a very fitting
celebration of a man who added so much to people's lives just by being
A great big shout out goes out to Paul's daughter, Gloria. She put a
lot of care and thought into the celebration of her father's life.
And she was so gracious and welcoming--even with people she had never
met in person. Like me. She is surely her father's daughter.
jules hathaway

Sent from my iPod

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