Sunday, December 15, 2013
Book talk: All Travis wanted was to survive the school year. Not make any friends or pass his classes with flying colors: just survive. The one thing he had learned was not to expect much from anyone. His parents died long ago and his grandfather is barely there. Even his dog disappeared before the move. He knew that his life would be awful and he had almost even accepted it. But this year life would surprise Travis. This year Travis's secrets will be revealed, and for good or for bad it will change his life forever.
Rocks my socks: I love the sparse narrative of Travis's chapters. A lot is left unsaid but so much is communicated. Travis's emotions and his voice feel very authentic and Schmatz deals with a lot of difficult issues without descending into the saccharine or the cynical, which is no easy feat. I also adored the contrast of Velveeta's narratives with her distinct flair and strong personality. I appreciated that the friends that Travis made among his peers helped him out a lot, and that there were also adults who really came through in the end. Of course the fact that the main helpful adult figures were a librarian and a reading teacher appealed to me.
Rocks in my socks: none
Every book its reader: I'd give this to teens looking for a quick and touching read. It's high interest and low reading level, but there's plenty for advanced readers to grapple with and enjoy as well. I read it for a book club and it made for an excellent discussion. Some of the issues explored get intense, so I'd save it for 6th grade and up.
Pat Schmatz has a website
There's a discussion guide for the book at Candlewick's website
There's a good video book talk for this from 60 second recap:
Source: copy provided as part of faculty & staff book club
Bluefish by Pat Schmatz: buy it or check it out today!