Posts tagged ‘bullies’

STUCK IN THE MIDDLE

Diary of a Cool Boy

Written by B. Campbell

AJ is the middle child. He has an older sister, Jane, who is learning to drive and a younger brother, Taj, who has the gross habit of picking his nose. AJ’s mom is a neatness and control freak, while his dad is laid back.

Middle school readers will love the humorous situations in which AJ constantly finds himself. Cedric is the classroom bully, and the new boy, Hawk reveals a secret to AJ that will eventually enhance AJ’s reputation. Readers will enjoy reading about the family foibles and mishaps, as well as the sixth-grade classroom escapades. There are a few valuable life lessons to be learned, but the plot is fairly predictable with few twists and turns.

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A THANKLESS THANKSGIVING

A Pardon for Tommy

Written by Patricia Nmukoso Enyi

Chelsea is a college freshman who wakes to recurring nightmares. When she was twelve, Chelsea lost her home during Hurricane Katrina. She and her father were swept away by the flood waters. Chelsea has not been able to bring herself to return to New Orleans

Chelsea retells her experience. She survives the flood with the turkey her father captured for Thanksgiving Dinner in her backpack. Enyi traces Chelsea’s harrowing experiences while awaiting rescue and the reunion with her mother and brother at the Houston Astrodome. The family struggles to maintain hope that Chelsea’s dad, Max, will be found alive.

The scene shifts to adjustment to a new life in Houston at their grandmother’s home. Several subplots are included. There are New Orleans’ bullies who have also moved to the new school. Rex, their mother’s twin brother, is unwelcome at their new house. Chelsea has become attached to “Tommy,” her pet turkey. She cannot accept killing Tommy and celebrating Thanksgiving without their father. Will the family find out whether Max is alive or dead? How will the children adjust in their new home? Does “Tommy” become Thanksgiving Dinner?

The characters in the story experience typical coming of age experiences, compounded by the tragedy of this natural disaster, their father’s disappearance, a forced move, and the family’s dysfunction. This book could benefit from some editing. Transitions are not always clear, and the subplots are not fully developed. On the other hand, the author does a good job of painting the pain and trauma of the disaster. Readers need to suspend belief at times; a turkey surviving so many mishaps is a bit far fetched. On the other hand, the story is a powerful one for middle-grade and young adult audiences.

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