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

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Running in the Direction of Wonder!

Now Is the Time for RunningNow is The ime for Running by Michael Williams is a pretty real look at two brothers fleeing from Zimbabwe. The only problem is that this book has everything. First, it has a developmentally challenged brother whom the hero struggles to protect during the annihilation of their village and their subsequent run into South Africa. They later encounter forms of refugee slavery, immolation and rioting by a xenophobic crowd, a descent into hopelessness and drugs, and finally redemption on the pitch of the International Homeless Soccer games. I really enjoyed this book. It tells an important story and is entirely accessible by teenage readers. The brothers’ love and co-dependence palliates the horror of the story. The book though felt a bit like the author was covering all the possible permutations—there were about three different stories here. The main character’s motivation revolves around the care of his brother, so when his brother dies (halfway through the book,) the character and the story lose focus.

Story is timely too as we are not too far from the vuvuzelas of the World Soccer Games in South Africa. And it’s really neat that the homeless games actually exist—and in Canada too!

So--- I read Now is The Time for Running first. Couldn’t put it down and had absolutely no interest in my other book—the silly picture book Wonder Struck by Brian Selznick. Wasn’t too interested in Wonderstruck’s artwork either— I gather that I am in the minority on this one but thought the drawings a bit pedestrian. But—this is the book I will choose. I was wonderstruck! Stayed with me.

Selznick melds two stories together in a magical way that is all his own. I enjoyed the book a lot. Made me want to read his first, The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Story deals with loss – our heroes both are deaf and both have lost their sense of self (dealt with in non-sentimental, almost perfunctory way.) Lots of coincidence and unexplained characters make entrances and exits, but because of the magic of the format (pictures that covered huge chunks of the plot) all things became acceptable.

It is deceptive—the pictures take the story in linear and non linear directions so story is complex and still will attract students who don’t like reading. So- I’ll choose Wonderstruck to go on to the next round but I will buy Now is the Time for Running for the library and for our Peace Unit. I figured out the best way to sit on the fence!! Oh yeah!


  1. Woohoo! I want to read Wonderstruck, but I can read Now is the Time for Running when it gets here. Thanks, Wendy!

  2. I had no idea that we had these soccer games. I am a sucker for historical fiction so I can't wait to read that book! I've also added a visit to that New Jersey museum to my bucket list - it actually has a cameo in the movie New Year's Eve.