Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Books for Reluctant Readers: FaceSpace; Spoiled Rotten

Danny McBride is not the coolest kid in school, not in his wildest dreams. And if the other kids knew he spent his Saturday nights playing Parcheesi with his mom and working on a city made of Lego, he'd be even less cool. Danny wants more than anything to be popular. He creates a fictional British rocker named James and befriends him publicly online, hoping his make-believe friend's cool will rub off. It works. Danny starts making friends and feeling like part of the crowd—until people start wanting to meet the imaginary friend, and Danny's plan starts to unravel. 

Great topic. Less than great execution.   The fake profile that was made and the supporting characters reaction to it was not realistic. Also, the lesson was learned to easily and with very light consequences. The ending was too abrupt.  As a teaching tool for the reader, watching an episode to MTV's show Catfish would provide a much better understanding of the affects and consequences of fake profiles for the creator and viewers. 
Jessica loves her yearly backpacking trip with her father, but this year everything has changed. This year Jessica has to share her vacation with her new stepmother and her spoiled new stepsister, Amy. Jessica tries to salvage her holiday by sneaking off for a day hike alone, but Amy follows. Jessica is certain that Amy will ruin the day. Amy rises to the challenge of the rigorous hike and Jessica learns that Amy is not as spoiled as she thought. When Amy is injured and night falls, Jessica must face the challenge of hiking through bear country in the dark. 

Good story for expressing the hurt, betrayal and  frustration she felt at her dad's remarriage and having a new family to deal with.  Jessica wasn't written as perfect or as the wronged party, which easily could have happened. Instead she too behaves according to her emotions and we get to see both sides of what she is going through and what she puts the other characters through. At times I wanted to tell her to get a grip and see that she was not the victim, which means the character was convincing got me. 
As for the writing style, I appreciated how the author balanced condensed storytelling with adding enough details about the environment to make you feel like you were there.  The descriptions were tangible without overbearing the plot and characters. 

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