Smackdown Books 2017

Arlene's smackdown17 book montage

The Memory of Things
Hour of the Bees
The Gospel Truth
Ultraman, Vol. 1
Ghost
The Bunker Diary
Echo
Trouble Is a Friend of Mine
Footer Davis Probably Is Crazy
The Hired Girl
An Ember in the Ashes
The Porcupine of Truth
Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir
Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans
Goodbye Stranger
Beautiful Blue World
The Blackthorn Key
One
Updraft
All American Boys
»

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Nest is Best

I started with The Crossover because it looked short and I usually don't like teen sports books. They always seem to be composed of the same tired tropes and the protagonist always has lots of Problems but then they score the winning goal and everything is at least temporarily ok and there's a metaphor. I have also really grown to dislike YA novels in poetry form. They seem to lack the depth of language that more skilled poets employ while sacrificing character development and plot in order to make a few cheap, visual puns (Oh! You wrote 'Down' in a downward direction! Look at you, Mr. Clever Author-Poet!) The Crossover was just what I feared it would be. And what's more, it was boring. I hate-read the whole thing.

Nest was the book that I most wanted to read after judging all the covers at book-reveal day. Like most YA reader-types, I had read a lot of Kenneth Oppel books and usually enjoyed them. Nest was beyond creepy. Other, more articulate smackers have already noted how successfully Oppel uses the real and legitimate fears of a child to craft a work that is legitimately unsettling and at times, downright terrifying. It's short and punchy and I could see students from many grades and reading levels enjoying it (unlike The Crossover which, when I pitched it to my classes in my best-fake-enthusiastic way - you know, the kind you reserve for teaching something like persuasive letters about Prosper Town Council's latest mess-up - was met with a universal "wuh-wuh.")

So it's clear for this reader: Nest is Best.

3 comments:

  1. The Crossover was by far the highlight of our shared reading experience last year in grade 8. It was a text that drew non-readers and athletes in. Poetry doesn't have to be boring and stifling like many traditional poems can be for teens. This offers a great gateway for them.

    It is also a pet peeve that the niche of sports books for YA is so small. It can be hard for our athletes to see themselves in books, so a book like The Crossover needs to be celebrated.

    I am guessing that you ran out this week to pick up his new title "Booked"? ; )
    http://www.slj.com/2015/12/teens-ya/how-kwame-alexander-gets-teens-reading-and-writing-poetry/#_

    ReplyDelete
  2. I loved your post...even if I agree with Holly that Crossover is popular at our school. It shows me that we can only pitch the books we see for our kids. What does that mean? We can't be the only pitcher in the rotation (Yeah! baseball's back...go Red Sox!) so we need to read, get other reading mentors interested and have them keep throwing books at our kids.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I loved your post...even if I agree with Holly that Crossover is popular at our school. It shows me that we can only pitch the books we see for our kids. What does that mean? We can't be the only pitcher in the rotation (Yeah! baseball's back...go Red Sox!) so we need to read, get other reading mentors interested and have them keep throwing books at our kids.

    ReplyDelete