Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Books for Reluctant Readers: Living Rough; Caching In

Living RoughIn most ways, Poe is like the other kids in his school. He thinks about girls and tries to avoid too much contact with teachers. He has a loving father who helps him with his homework. But Poe has a secret, and almost every day some small act threatens to expose him. He doesn't have a phone number to give to friends. He doesn't have an address. Poe and his father are living in a tent on city land. When the city clears the land to build housing, Poe worries that they might not be able to find another site near his school. Will Poe have to expose his secret to get help for himself and his father?

The fear, shame and prejudice face of being a homeless family are explored in Living Rough. This is a great read for leisure, but also to introduce social justice issues and challenge our assumptions about what it means to be homeless and how people can end up in this situation. The ending was a bit abrupt and could have use some more followup, but felt realistic. It definitely provokes conversations as to how Poe's circumstances were and could have otherwise been dealt with.


Caching inEric and Chris are avid geocachers who stumble into a very strange search for a series of geocaches. At first they are merely curious, but as the stakes rise and the challenges become more trying, the boys get truly hooked. Convinced they are indeed on the trail of treasure, they become consumed with the search, and though their quest tests their strength, intelligence, courage and even their friendship, they don't give up.

The popularity of urban geocaching makes this novel a great addition to the series.  The lingo and rules of the hunt are easily woven into Eric and Chris' adventures as is the excitement of deciphering clues.  Despite the somewhat cheesy twist and a convoluted ending, the action of the hunt for caches carries the novel most of the way.  The captivating subject matter will attract young readers and may even inspire a new hobby.

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