The problem with working at a middle school is that I read far fewer picture books than I used to and YA novels take a lot longer to finish than a stack of picture books. So my It's Monday What Are You Reading? posts are harder to fill up with a multitude of books (and may not be exactly on time...). Hopefully you will be content with one good review a week (and hopefully I can read one good book a week!). That, or I can review any of the Harry Potter series, as my daughters are obsessed and that is all we are reading at home these days!
This week's non-HP read was recommended last week by Carrie Gelson over at There's a Book for That. The Goldfish Boy intrigued me right away; it fit perfectly with the stream of books I have been reading lately about kids with differences (see this post). As I walked in to my school library the next day, there it was, sitting on the New Arrivals shelf just asking to be read. So I did.
The Goldfish Boy (Lisa Thompson) - Perfect for the middle years, this book explores many of the same topics as Wonder - difference, kindness, understanding. The main character has OCD and anxiety, conditions which have trapped him in the house in recent years until a missing child begins to draw him back out into the world. At first, I struggled with the pretense - I mean, who doesn't seek help for their struggling child long before it gets to the point where they are cooped up in the house with crippling anxiety? But the more I read, the more I realized how these parents were probably like most parents - hoping for the best, unsure of how to deal with the worst. This family is much like many of the families I deal with on a daily basis - the struggling teen who believes that he can cope with it himself, the well-meaning but frustrated dad, who believes that this is something his son just needs to try harder to snap out of and the overwhelmed and uncertain mom, knowing that something is wrong but lacking the knowledge and support to do much about it. Unlike many books about struggling kids, where the parents are super accepting and understanding, this family might actually strike a chord for many young readers. For anyone who has ever lived on a cul-de-sac (me!) the portrayal of how everyone on the small street knows everyone else's business is very familiar as well. This book is well-paced, moving slowly but not too slowly, towards the climax and not so overloaded with detail that young or weaker readers will miss important parts of the story. I would pair this book with Wonder, The Honest Truth (Dan Gemeinhart), Out of My Mind (Sharon Draper) and Stargirl (Jerry Spinelli) for a powerful lit circle about differences.
Any other books in this same vein you'd recommend?
I'm Bryn, teacher, mom, book lover, athlete. I am passionate about living life with my family, teaching and learning something new all the time. I hope you find something that speaks to you here on my blog and would love to hear from you too!