Sunday, November 11, 2012

Rules Review

Book talk: Have you ever had to explain something that you thought was obvious?  Well, Catherine is an expert in that field.  Simple rules like "Don't stand in front of the TV when other people are watching" or "You can yell on a playground, but not during dinner" or even "Flush!" need to be spelled out for David.  Younger brothers can be embarrassing enough without them taking off their pants in public.  Catherine loves David, but sometimes she wishes her life were a bit more normal.  That's why she's so excited about the new girl moving in next-door.  With her best friend gone for the summer, this is her chance to make a new friend who can do all the normal best friend things: she already has the tin cans and flashlights ready for secret messages.  Will this be the summer she's always dreamed of?  Or will it turn out to be another disaster?

Rocks my socks: I enjoyed the way Cynthia Lord worked the various rules Catherine has created into the narrative.  Catherine with all of her hopes, dreams, and insecurities seemed very real to me and one of the people in my reading group who is the parent of an autistic child said that those aspects of the story rang true as well.  This would be a great book to get a discussion started about what normal really means and how we treat those who we perceive as different.  My favorite character in the novel was Jason.  He  is unable to speak and communicates by pointing to cards with words on them contained in a binder.  Catherine volunteers to make some new cards for him and I found it interesting to see how she decided what cards to make.  I don't know how he lived so long without the card 'joke' to indicate sarcasm!

Rocks in my socks:  The novel has a pretty laid-back pace with not much happening for most of it, then the conflict that leads to the climax seems to come out of nowhere and be over very quickly.  I felt like characters overreacted to produce an inflated climax and then made up again in ways that seemed off to me. The other people in my book club were also a bit confused about what exactly was supposed to have happened between some of the characters and what their real feelings on the situation were.  Perhaps this is because the other characters weren't fleshed out as well as Catherine so we weren't able to infer what tone, etc they were using to say certain things and we weren't clear on all of their backgrounds that effected how they responded.

Every book its reader: I'd give it to readers 4th grade and up looking for a school story with a lot of heart.  It would make a particularly good class read to give students the chance to discuss the themes raised in the novel.  


Cynthia Lord has her own site with a page for the book as well as extras and a discussion guide

Scholastic has a page for the book as well

You can find fan-made book trailers for the book on YouTube including these two

Source:  Copy received as part of faculty & staff book club

Rules by Cynthia Lord: Buy it or check it out today!

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