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

Monday, January 27, 2014

Not so fast, Verity!

When I was in the second grade, My Little Ponies and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were the height of popularity. My classmates spent their recesses either prancing about, or spinning invisible nunchucks. I, however, was involved in something much more sober and important. I was, after all, the head of the CIA club, which consisted of myself and my friend Clinton, the only other person weird  inventive enough in my class to “get it.” Equipped with scotch-tape laminated badges and secret codes, we lurked behind snowbanks, carefully observing the mundane activities of the assembled ponies and turtles, waiting for something big to break.

So obviously, Code Name Verity must be the easy winner, right? I mean, it has everything young me would have been looking for: tricksy lady-spies, intrigue, interrogations, top-secret midnight missions, and more! And yet… I found myself skimming whole sections where Maddie would yet again wax eloquent about aviation.

Maybe against another book this decision would be easier, but then Counting by Sevens came along and gave me all the feelings. I loved the protagonist and her unique way of seeing the world, and the way the assembled characters invent their own new kind of family and community. It was inspirational without being cheesy, showing readers how to overcome obstacles and strive to better oneself. I’ve had a couple of students give this one rave reviews already.

So what do you think, Shelley? Should we halfheartedly agree with the previous Smackers, who so presumptuously titled their post? ;) Or should we make this interesting and split the vote?


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  2. C'mon, Shelley! I don't know who you are, but I REALLY want to see Counting By Sevens advance!!!! I thought it was outstanding. It "gave me all the feelings," too, Chandra.

  3. Seriously, I was crying both devastated tears and warm-hearted tears within the span of an hour.

  4. Bah. It was predictable and contrived. Teens want reality. The characters in Verity were real and made difficult decisions. There wasn't anything difficult that was plausible in Counting by 7s. It was sweet, but too emotionally easy.

  5. Did we read the same book? Nothing difficult or plausible? How about picking up the pieces of your life after losing loved ones? Feeding and providing for a family on a single income? Dealing with the stereotypes that come along with the label "immigrant?” Figuring out “who you are” in a world where you don’t know or even see anyone like you? When Willow says she hopes her family court judge is “a woman and a person of color who sees me and understands that I’m different, even Strange, but that I still have value,” there’s more truth and reality in that one sentence alone than a whole volume of Nazi-officer manipulation and flight training. Counting by 7s has real situations our students might face, or are even now facing. Did it end on a sweet note? Absolutely, and I loved it. Sometimes life is actually kind of awesome, you know?