Smackdown Books 2018

Wolf Hollow
Salt to the Sea
The Serpent King
Optimists Die First
The Hate U Give
Orphan Island
Dan vs. Nature
The Female of the Species
Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere
Paper Girls, Vol. 1
The Passion of Dolssa
The Distance Between Us
When We Collided
Louis parmi les spectres
Girl in the Blue Coat
Defy the Stars

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

alligator bayou VS Whisper

alligator bayou by Donna Jo Napoli

I'll be first to admit, even though I teach Social Studies, I'm not a fan of most historical fiction. Give me action!!

When I first picked up Donna Jo Napoli's alligator bayou, it wasn't a book that I was exactly looking forward to reading. Maybe because it took place over a

hundred years ago and I know nothing about Italian immigration.

When you think of stories of race and discrimination, you don't usually think of people from Italy facing the brunt of it. This story helps readers to understand what it may have been like to be an immigrant and a visible minority in the United States around the turn of the19th Century.

I began reading this book on the beach in Mexico and sadly, the 70 year old man in his speedo was capturing more attention than the story. However, I did finally get into it about half way through.

Each chapter is its own adventure for the main character, 14 year old Calogero, who moved to America from Italy after his mother died, to live with his cousins and Uncles. (His dad had traveled to America when Calogero was a small boy but they never heard from him again). Throughout the story a thread is woven through the chapters culminating in an ending that I didn't see coming!

Despite what I thought was definitely a slow start compared to what I enjoy, once the story got going, I had to find out what was going to happen. Although I am not minimizing the discrimination any immigrant has faced, it wasn't a story that really grabbed my attention. In the end, I didn't like the outcome and really don't think teens will enjoy the read, especially reluctant readers, but am glad I read until the end. I even learned something!

Rating: 2 Speedos out of 5

Whisper by Phoebe Kitanidis

I hear whispers...When is this class going to be over? How much

longer until lunch? Who cares how the Canadian government works? Ms. Overacker is so amazing......I can't imagine being able to hear people's thoughts, or even worse, have them hear mine - especially in the middle of a staff meeting!

Phoebe Kitanidis' novel Whisper was definitely a different start compared to that of alligator bayou. It captured my attention from the opening chapter and although I have limited experience reading fantasy I was pleasantly surprised. It wasn't too over the top or unbelievable and had a little bit of everything including action, suspense and romance for every dreaming teenage girl.

The main character, 14 year old Joy, has an extra special power for hearing peoples thoughts or whispers as they call them. Both her mother and older sister have the same gift but all use their talent in very different ways. Joy uses it for good and her older sister evil. As a result, their relationship is far from stable. I think many girls will relate to this sisterly or sibling battle and although rooting for Joy, will still enjoy the evil stunts that her older sister pulls to make her life miserable. As Joy's 'gift' intensifies, her older sister also continues to struggle with her own. How will they make it through? What will they do with their power? Read to the end!!

The story was very strong and sucessfully held my attention in it's entirety. Its weaknesses? The only part I really didn't like was the end. Not the outcome necessarily but how fast it occured. I felt a bit let down that the entire story built up to the conflict and was over so quickly. I wanted more!

Hopefully it is obvious that I am choosing this book to continue over alligator bayou.

Can you hear my whispers now?.....I'm just new at this! Did I write enough? Is this book good enough to go to the end? What will Dia MacMighty think? Is anyone going to lay the smackdown on me when they read this book....hmmmm. Bring on the next set!

Rating: 4 Whispers out of 5


  1. Hey--I didn't read Whisper but I did like alligator bayou! Whisper must really be good, although, I wonder if it is as good as Knife of Never Letting Go where there is a similar hear people's thoughts or "whispers" element. Will have to read to find out!

  2. Love the rating systems! Also, I totally relate to your last "whispers." I felt guilty not allowing one book to go on -- what if I was the only one who didn't like it? What if everyone else would choose it to win? Too bad you all have to live with my taste.

  3. Oh Donna...I'm totally in you've got the hook and the cover, after barely surviving the Matched debacle...thank goodness a hook and a slick cover pull through....go Whisper!

  4. Even before reading alligator bayou I didn't like it - the cover stinks!! zzzzzz - Snore. Who would even pick up a book that looks like that? The cover is as old and uninteresting as most of the story! Arlene, Knife of Never Letting Go? A talking dog is not realistic!! Whisper is way better.

  5. Donna, there are lots of people who would pick up a book with a cover like alligator bayou, maybe not when it is next to Whisper, but... And, who ever said a good story had to be realistic? Is Hunger Games realistic to you? But you read the trilogy and liked it, right?

  6. Yeah, yeah point taken Arlene. I did like the first 2 of the Hunger Games trilogy. The third was a bit over the top and I was tired of the storyline. I did get a lot of my grade 8's and 9's to read them though:)