Sunday, October 15, 2017

White Fang, by Jack London

This book is about a rough dog named White Fang, who’s actually three-quarters wolf.  Born in the wilds of Canada’s Yukon Territory, White Fang survives by moving between Indian tribes, ferocious wolf packs and even a dog-fighting ring.  White Fang’s struggles finally come to an end when a gold prospector buys the dog and brings him onward to California.  There, a warm, sunny retirement awaits…or does it?

One of the things I like best about Mr. London’s writing is the fact that he doesn’t shy away from depicting the grisly realities of life on the frontier.  Tough men headed west expecting to live a tough live, and by all accounts they weren’t disappointed.  This book is written in a similar style, although I do have to say that the depictions of violence and cruelty aren’t too excessive.  If anything, this book is an accurate depiction of what frontier life must have been like, and it doesn’t hurt one bit that the main character is a heroic dog! 

Sunday, October 1, 2017

S.O.R. Losers, by AVI

The South Orange River (S.O.R.) School has a great reputation in sports, to the point where they’ve never lost a game this season.  That winning record is about to change, however, when some non-sporting kids decide to form SOR’s first soccer team.   When their overeager parents force the team to continue on after their first blowout loss, the kids rack up an impressive losing record that only serves to bring these misfits closer together!

Growing up, I read a ton of sports books by awesome authors like Matt Christopher.  While these books were great, most of them were usually about talented kids who excelled on the playing field.  Avi’s book is much different, because it shows that sports can still be beneficial for those of us who weren’t blessed with a ton of athletic ability.  Be sure to pick up a copy of this classic, and I guarantee you’ll be laughing out loud until the final whistle!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

A Wrinkle In Time, by Madeline L'Engle

Meg Murry is a brilliant student, although all her friends and teachers tend to regard her as a troublesome kid.  Her parents are scientists, and her genius father has been inexplicably missing for several months.  One stormy night, Meg and her brother Charles are having a late snack when their eccentric new neighbor, Mrs. Whatsit, bursts in with an amazing announcement.  Mr. Murry is apparently still alive, although his research has somehow caused him to be propelled off through space and time into a mysterious fifth dimension known as a tessaract.  Armed with this new knowledge, Meg sets off with Charles and her school friend Calvin in an attempt travel through space-time and rescue her father!

I’ve never been a huge reader of science fiction, but this book is an example of a story that transcends the genre.  It’s been a perennial favorite for readers of all ages, no doubt due to its amazing story and well-thought-out plotline.  I’ve made it a personal goal to read further on into Ms. L’Engle other books in the series, collectively known as “The Time Quintet”, and if you’re looking for an amazing adventure then you’re more than welcome to join me!

Sunday, September 3, 2017

The BFG, by Roald Dahl

Sophie is a young girl who lives in a crowded, noisy orphanage.  Her ordinary life is interrupted one late night when she sees a large, cloaked person on the street outside her building.  Shocked at being discovered, this person carries Sophie off to his homeland in Giant Country!  There, Sophie and the BFG (Big Friendly Giant) quickly become friends, and find themselves on the frontlines of a coming war between England and the other, evil giants!

One reason that I liked this story (even though it included a girl as the main character!) was that Mr. Dahl challenges the reader to reconsider their preconceptions.  Most giants that we’ve read about before are evil, and based on this story it looks as if that notion is correct.  But what happens when one of them is secretly good, and spends his nights blowing peaceful dreams into the minds of sleeping children?  “The BFG” is an absolutely lovely adventure for readers of all ages, and I’m sure it’ll quickly become one of your childrens’ favorite books. 

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Lord of the Files, by William Golding

During a wartime evacuation, a plane full of prep-school boys crashes on a remote island in the Pacific.  Two of the boys, Ralph and Piggy, quickly set to work taking care of the survivors.  The initial relief to be alive quickly passes, however, as the boys turn to focus on the day-to-day work of survival.  Conflict arises when the group breaks up into two separate, competing camps, leading to an epic ending that no reader could possibly see coming!

While this book is a classic and a staple of most schools’ required reading lists, it’s important to know in advance that “Lord of the Flies” has several disturbing parts.  Violence is not glossed over in this story, and I think that Mr. Golding shows his readers a lot of respect by not doing so.  Whenever you’re ready for it, pick up a copy and dive in.  I guarantee, this is one story you’ll never forget!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain

I expect an unusual amount of adventure from my books if the main character is a boy named Huckleberry, and this classic surely didn’t disappoint.  Huck Finn lived in the town of St. Petersburg, Missouri, a frontier town where danger waits on its borders.  When Huck’s alcoholic father kidnaps him from his new court-appointed guardian, it’s up to Huck and his friend Tom Sawyer to make their escape.  Once free in the wild, the boys partner up with Jim, a runaway slave, and set off on a mission to help him free his own family.

One fact that’s often overlooks in this classic adventure story is the downright brutality of everyday life in the frontier South.  The original book has been banned many times for its use of the word “nigger”, and subsequent versions have been edited to remove this phrase.  As with most of Mr. Twain’s other works, though, the author is not known for pulling any punches with his writing.  His stories and books are often gritty, but they are always honest.  Huck Finn, one of the best examples of Mr. Twain’s writing, is certainly no different.  

Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster

This book tells the story of Milo, a bored young boy who unexpectedly receives a tollbooth as a gift.  Not knowing quite what to do with this present, he drives through it in his toy car and arrives in the Kingdom of Wisdom.  There, he meets two troubled princesses named Rhyme and Reason, and sets off on a quest to restore order to the Kingdom.  Along the way, Milo rediscovers his love of learning while exploring the literal meaning of many common idioms.

This story is a great adventure on the surface, but what really makes the book is the epic quantity of puns inside.  Anyone who enjoyed the wacky antics of Amelia Bedelia would probably love The Phantom Tollbooth as well, particularly the part where Milo finds himself “jumping” to an island called Conclusions.  This is a smart, funny adventure for young men of all ages, and if you haven’t read it already then you’re missing out.