Friday, February 20, 2015

Book Review: Crossover

Crossover, by Kwame Alexander is the winner of the 2015 Newbery Book Award. Like last year’s winner, it is written in verse. It seems kids like reading books in verse these days. I think they like reading short chapters and few words….like text messages.

It isn’t true poetry, or verse, but the text is definitely interesting. The reader is engaged in real time with what is happening, sometimes in staccato during basketball games. I love this book for its energy and its diversity. The main character, Josh, is black, the son of a famous basketball player.

The story is about competition between the twins (seems to be a theme with this year’s ALA award winners. The Printz Award was given to a book about twins being divided by life.) One twin gets a girlfriend and becomes distracted. The other is jealous. There are also serious health problems going on with the father.

This is heavy stuff for middle school readers, but it is handled with finesse, with words bouncing like a basketball on the court. This was an enjoyable read for me, and one I think my reluctant middle school reader would embrace. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Book Review: The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner

Bree Tanner has a brief role as one member of a newborn vampire army in Eclipse, the third installment in Stephenie Meyer's runaway hit Twilight series. "The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner" is a novella that fleshes out the makings of this newborn army and gives this character dimension.

While the novella lacks the compelling readability of the series, it shows another side of the story and humanizes a handful of the vampires created to kill. It is a brief read at around 175 pages and the end is understandably disappointing as the reader knows what is coming whether or not Eclipse was read beforehand, which is likely as this novella's audience are Twilight fans who want to read more.

Meyer has skill in creating interesting characters that stick with the reader, and she does not fail in doing so in the novella. Unfortunately, it isn't the ill fated Bree that leaves an impression. It is the curiously talented Fred, also a newborn vampire, and the only character to leave the story with a sense of hope. People and vampire alike can't stand to look at Fred, but I enjoyed reading about him.