The Book Reviews – Website

September 28, 2009

Funny Little Monkey

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Funny Little Monkey

Author: Andrew Auseon

Page Length: 298

Reading Level: 5

Genre: Fiction

PLOT SUMMARY: Arty Moore is a fourteen-year-old boy with a growth hormone deficiency which has stifled his growth to a mere 4’ 2”. Arty has a twin brother, Kurt, who has seemed to get all of the growth hormones of the two and towers more than 6’ tall. 

Kurt has tormented Arty most of their adolescent life, and when Arty hears of an “underground misfit group” in his school, he employs them to sabotage his brother.  When the school mascot is stolen, Kurt becomes a prime target of accusation. 

While the underground organization mounts evidence against Kurt, Arty becomes infatuated with Leslie Dermott, the new, rich girl in town.   Arty doesn’t really know why, but Leslie seems to enjoy his company, also. A series of events follow that make Arty question his feelings about his brother, mother, Leslie, and the underground misfits.

REVIEW: Young teen boys would enjoy this book as it deals with many of the feelings they experience in the years of puberty and early maturity. The book had several subplots that kept the story line interesting. However, the book focuses on many negative behaviors and feelings and the author does not end it with any strong socially redeeming conclusion.

AREAS FOR TEACHING: Theme, Character, Conflict, Cause/Effect, and Compare/Contrast

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: Mild profanity, some underage tobacco, alcohol, and drug use

RELATED BOOKS: Tangerine

REVIEWED BY: Shirley Wagner

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September 21, 2008

The Teacher’s Funeral

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The Teacher’s Funeral

Author: Richard Peck

Page Length: 190

Reading Level: 6

Genre: Fiction

PLOT SUMMARY: Summer is winding down in August of 1904 and 15 year old Russell, his brother, Lloyd, and his friend, Charlie are enjoying their annual camp out by the river when news reaches them that Myrt Arbuckle has died. The boys are ecstatic – after all she is the only teacher in these parts and surely that means there will be no school this year. Russell feels sure that now he will be able to fulfill his dream of working with the harvesters on the all new threshing machines. A new teacher is found who can only be worse than the last. Russell and Lloyd just know that this will be the worst year ever. Before long, the privy’s on fire and there’s a snake in the teacher’s desk. Will the new teacher survive the year? Will Russell ever get out of town to live the life he has longed for?

REVIEW: Peck does a fabulous job of finding humor in many situations. The book rings true to what one would expect to find people saying and doing in rural America in 1904. The characters are adventurous and colorful. Peck’s books make you long to hear your grandparent’s stories (maybe teens never realized they could be this good). This book is a very entertaining read!

AREAS FOR TEACHING: historical context, narrative effect, predictions, inferences, summarization, point of view

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: none (funeral – but a humorous one)

RELATED BOOKS: Fair Weather, A Year Down Yonder, Here Lies the Librarian, On the Wings of Heroes

RELATED WEBSITES:

http://www.webenglishteacher.com/peck.html

http://nancykeane.com/booktalks/peck_teacher’s.htm

http://www.teachertube.com/view_video.php?viewkey=c7097e218b4fd6b767f4

http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9781400091041

REVIEWED BY: Dayna Taylor

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