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January 17, 2009

You Don’t Know Me

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You Don’t Know Me

Author: David Klass

Page Length: 344

Reading Level: 6

Genre: Fiction

PLOT SUMMARY: The reader has the unique opportunity to get to know 14 year old John. Reading this book is like being inside John’s head – he shares his every thought about everything from playing the tuba, to being harassed by teachers, to admiring Glory Hallelujah from across the room. John claims that no one really knows him – after all he doesn’t even know himself. Throw in a manipulative girl, an abusive step father, a mother who is trying to make ends meet, and a band director who might know too much and life couldn’t get much more complicated.

REVIEW: I found this novel interesting and insightful. Who doesn’t want to understand teenagers (teenage boys) better? This book is a great look (fictional but realistically so) inside the mind of a teenage boy. I would recommend this book for parents and teachers – just to understand the perspective. It’s very powerful – the reader feels the fear of the step father with John. We also understand his cynicism about the world. The book is also humorous (outrunning an angry father)…

AREAS FOR TEACHING: cause and effect, character analysis, sequence, use of dialogue (internal and external), elements of plot, suspense

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: abuse, theft, violence

RELATED BOOKS: Dark Angel, Home of the Brave, Wrestling With Honor, Danger Zone, The Caretaker Trilogy



REVIEWED BY:  Dayna Taylor


June 2, 2008

Yellow Line

Filed under: Y — thebookreviews @ 8:46 pm
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The Yellow Line

Author: Sylvia Olsen

Page Length: 107

Reading Level: 2.4

Genre: Fiction

PLOT SUMMARY: Vince lives in a small town divided by a yellow line. Indians stay one side of the town (and the street) and whites stay on another. Despite the fact these students ride the bus and are schooled together, racial tensions prevail everywhere. Vince becomes involved when his cousin Sherry begins dating one of the “other kind.” Vince’s parents are enraged and want Vince to tell Sherry’s parents what he’s seen. Vince himself is finding that he’s changing. That cute girl on the bus with those mesmerizing eyes won’t leave his mind, hanging with his friends isn’t that fun it used to be, and dealing with the taunting and threats of the Indian crowd is getting him down.

Vince faces difficult decisions. Will he rat Sherry out to her parents? Should he tell someone what he knows about the assault? How can he ease the tensions all around him?

REVIEW: This book is written on a low reading level and is a quick read. However, its briefness does not allow full development of the story line and often issues are introduced and dismissed more quickly than they should be. Sometimes it seems as if the Orca books try to address too many issues at once. For struggling readers, the story line is engaging and the length of the book motivating. This book examines racial tensions and just how difficult but rewarding overcoming them can be. The character also faces difficult decisions and learns that taking a stand for what is right is often difficult but always essential.

AREAS FOR TEACHING: sequence, cause and effect, writer’s motive, audience, purpose, tone, compare and contrast

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: an assault takes place – but the details provided are sketchy

RELATED BOOKS: Death Wind, One More Step, Grind, Tears of a Tiger, The World According to Dog, Maniac Magee

MOVIE CONNECTIONS:  Crash, Freedomland

MUSIC-SONG CONNECTIONS: Black or White by Michael Jackson, Ebony and Ivory by Paul McCartney, Drowning by Hootie and the Blowfish, Free Your Mind by En Vogue


REVIEWED BY: Dayna Taylor

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