Thursday, February 18, 2010


Written by Gordon Korman
Most enjoyed by football lovers in 6th through 8th grade

Marcus is new to town and ready to play the game he loves, football. It's hard to get to know anyone in town, though, when you move in the summer. As he practices in the park, he becomes friends with Charlie, a guy in his 50's who can hit a tackle like he's a kid. A little research and Marcus learns that his buddy is really Charlie Popovich, former linebacker in the NFL and crowned the 'King of Pop' because of the effectiveness of his hits. Though their practices are brutally physical, there's something about the hitting and tackling that Marcus soon enjoys. He can understand what Charlie means when he says that he 'loves the pop'.

His lessons with Charlie pay off because a job as quarterback for the Raider's doesn't look possible. Troy, the winning quarterback from an undefeated season last year, has no intention of giving up the job. None of the other players are too interested in welcoming Marcus to the team either. It doesn't help matters that Troy is Charlie's son, a son that Charlie has never mentioned. In fact, Charlie has never mentioned having a family at all. He plans pranks like a teenager but can't recall carrying them out. Marcus soon realizes that something isn't right with Charlie. Perhaps all those years of living for the 'pop' have taken their toll. When a crucial decision is needed for Charlie's future, Marcus and Troy differ on the right approach to take. Who will decide what's best for Charlie - the family that loves him or the buddy who knows how important football is to the King of Pop?

'Pop' is an excellent, gripping novel about a young man watching an older friend come to terms with the brutal result of too many head injuries. It's a timely book because the long term effect of numerous concussions on football players has been in the news quite a bit. While football is an important part of 'Pop', the close friendship that develops between Marcus and Charlie is what draws readers in. Without giving too much of the book away, it's difficult to read how much Marcus cares for Charlie and how Charlie really can't return the feeling. But knowing this, Marcus doesn't give up on Charlie, a quality that I admired in him. There were a few times I wished Marcus had gone to another adult to help him deal with Charlie, but I appreciate the fact that he felt he couldn't. It made me wonder how I would have handled the situation myself.

Even if you're not a fan of football, don't pass up 'Pop' It's a great story about a young man caring for an older friend despite heartbreaking circumstances.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

RC 2011: Trouble

Written by Gary Schmidt
Most enjoyed by 6th through 8th graders
2011 Rebecca Caudill Nominee

Back in summer of 2008, when Trouble by Gary Schmidt was first published, I recommended it as an excellent book, one that made you think about life for days to come. You can read my review here. I still feel that way about this book, a title that has stayed with me since that summer. I am so happy to see it as a nominee for the 2011 Rebecca Caudill list. If you haven't read it yet, go read my previoius review then put this at the top of your reading list.

Friday, February 12, 2010

I Can't Wait!

The title and cover of the last book in the Hunger Games trilogy has been released. Now to try to wait patiently until August 24th when it's available in bookstores!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

2011 Rebecca Caudill List is Here!

Yahoo! Time to start reading books from the 2011 Rebecca Caudill list! If you're like me, you try to read all of the titles on each year's list. This year, we have 10 students trying to finish up the 2010 list. One has actually manged to read all 20! But with the new list out, it's awful tempting to jump right to the 2011 list. If you're ready to do just that, you can check out the list here. Happy reading!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Day of the Assassins

Written by Johnny O'Brien
Most enjoyed by WWI fans in 6th through 8th grade

There are not many books, either fiction or non-fiction, available for young readers interested in World War I, although a few have popped up recently. 'Day of the Assassins' by Jack Christie is one of these titles that does a nice job of mixing the war, time travel, and mystery in one story.

Jack Christie never really knew his father. His mother, who left with Jack when he was young, has never told him much about the man. Now, Jack wishes she had, because he's discovered that his father is up to something. Something big. Something involving time travel and a chance to change history.

When Jack and his friend Angus get sent back in time to 1914 Austria, they are pursued not just by Jack's father's friend, but by members of VIGIL, an organization committed to making sure the time travel machine cannot change history. As they try to escape VIGIL, they meet a young woman who asks for their help in carrying out the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, the event that triggered the war. If Jack is able to stop the assassination, World War I will never happen, but should he stop it? What will happen to history if he does?

Filled with plenty of action to keep readers turning the page, 'Day of the Assassins' is a thriller wrapped up in history and seasoned with time travel. The author's notes in the back of the book provide factual information about the assassination plot, the political climate of the time, and what happened to the assassins afterward. Period photographs placed throughout help identify key historical figures. Great for historical fiction fans as well as those that like action novels, 'Day of the Assassins' is well worth the read.