Thursday, July 17, 2014

Books for Reluctant Readers: Scarlet Thunder; Disconnect

Scarlet ThunderTrenton Hiser is trying to walk in the footsteps of his uncle, Mike Hiser, a successful Hollywood director. During Trenton's summer vacation, he goes with his uncle to film the inside story of Scarlet Thunder, a top-level stock-car racing team. As they film the action, too many things go wrong, deadly mistakes are made and Trenton finds out that much more than the race is at stake.

Quick facts and tidbits of trivia about both racing life and the work of filmmakers bring this mystery to life. It is easy to slip into the story beside Trent and gather clues while explore these two worlds. This entry in the Orca series focuses more on the action than on the inner turmoil of the main character - a nice change from that focus in the last few series titles I read. Brouwer delivers a lively action tale.

DisconnectSince moving hundreds of miles to a new school, Daria has become increasingly dependent on her cell phone. Texts, Facebook and phone calls are her only connection to her friends in Calgary, and Daria needs to know everything that is going on at home to feel connected to her old life. Her cell phone habit looks a lot like addiction to her mother and to her new friend Cleo. Daria dismisses the idea of technology addiction as foolish until her habit puts a life in danger.

Peterson addresses the growing reliance on staying connected that I see everyday at my schools.  This story is told from the viewpoint of Daria, who doesn't realize the affect her obsession with being online all the time has on those around her.  It dares to show how not looking up from our electronic devices impacts everything from common courtesy, missing out on the face to face connections we need as humans to the dangers we face ourselves and bring to those around us.  The common response of feeling that we need to stay connected and the panic when that connection is taken from up is recognized as is the cost we face because of it.  While Daria is a young student, the lesson is one that everyone can benefit from.

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