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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Great Books for Boys

Imagine my surprise when I came across a series of books written by Henry Winkler. You know, Henry Winkler of The Fonz fame? Well, this cool celebrity teamed up with Lin Oliver. Together, they have written a popular series about Hank Zipzer, The World's Greatest Underachiever, ages 9 - 12.

I read the first book of the series, Niagra Falls, or Does It?, and was pleasantly surprised. Hank Zipzer's first homework assignment has him terrified. He needs to write five paragraphs on "What You Did This Summer." Hank has a hard time writing one sentence. He isn't sure how he'll be able to complete the assignment. He then gets the brilliant idea to turn this written essay into a visual demonstration of his vacation to Niagra Falls. Think water, water, and more water. Poor Hank gets detention and gets the surprise of his life, with a cool music teacher, who helps him see that he learns differently, and it was okay.

If you're looking for a book to help your child understand their experiences with dyslexia or other learning difficulties, this is a great start. Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver created a clever, resourceful character who just happens to have a learning disability. This first book was amusing and also empowering.

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The next book I read just happened to have protagonists with dyslexia as well. Add some hyperactivity, and you've got teen heroes who are demigods. I loved The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan, ages 9 and up. Sadly, I discovered there will be five books to this series, and only three are published to date. I really try to read series only after all the books are published, but made an exception since I am fascinated with Greek mythology. Now I will pay for it.

What a great book! I think children with learning disabilities will feel powerful after reading this book. Great empowerment and fantastic heroes/villians packaged in a smart, funny, action packed, entertaining, fast read.

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If you ever think you have a tough life, you haven't read Tyrell by Coe Booth, one of The Longstockings, YA: ages 15 and up, for mature teens. This is a wonderful book that kept me on edge. I was cheering for Tyrell and booing his pathetic excuse of a mother. Since fifteen year old Tyrell's father is in prison, he finds himself the man of the family and needs to figure out a plan to make some money so he can get his mother and little brother out of the roach infested homeless shelter. His girlfriend is very smart, and he reduces himself to look through her diary to see where he stands. He refuses to make a living from crime, and has some challenges he needs to work through. Even though Tyrell isn't in school, he makes sure his brother does his homework and gets to school.

This book is masterfully told in first person. Smooth, courageous, honor, anguish, insecurity, hope...you'll see it all.

7 comments:

PJ Hoover said...

I Love the Lightning Thief. I haven't read Titan's Curse, but it's on my sabbatical list.

Susan T. said...

Thanks for these tips, Vivian. We might have to check out the Fonz's books after your review.

Candace Salima (LDS Nora Roberts) said...

Thanks for these tips. I'm going to order them next week. I love having books in my library that my nephew and nieces will come to enjoy.

Jen Robinson said...

Interesting... You've convinced me to check out the Henry Winkler books. I love Percy Jackson!!

daphne grab said...

wow, a book by the fonz and it sounds good- i'll definitely check it out! i loved the lightening thief and tyrell is absolutely phenomenal! thanks for the recs.

Jennifer, Snapshot said...

My daughter has read the first 2 or 3 Lightning Thief books and likes them. I got a chuckle out of you waiting for a completed series.

I did that with HP. Well, not exactly. I started them a year or so ago, but didn't speed through them because I knew that there was no rush. I took a big hiatus (and am still on it) between books 4 and 5, so by the time I get to the final one, it will be all ready for me to purchase in trade paperback, my preferred binding.

CookieBooky said...

I think it's a great idea - waiting until the whole series comes out to read it. I have a rule of thumb that all series must be read in order - but this is even better!