Sunday, March 20, 2016

Okay for Now, by Gary D. Schmidt

Doug Swieteck is a fourteen-year old who just moved to a new town.  With no friends and a lousy family, it seems as if the entire world is stacked up against him, at least until he meets Lil Spicer.  Lil is a fiery young lady who turns Doug on to his local library, a place of solitude of Doug’s otherwise stormy life.  As Doug discovers the joy of drawing, he works to integrate himself into the social web of small-town New York.

Even though Doug has his share of challenges to overcome, including a dysfunctional family, an abusive father, brushes with the law and a brother deployed to Vietnam, this is hardly an “issue” book.  Rather, Mr. Schmidt focuses more on Doug’s passion for drawing, and how having a creative outlet helps him manage all these stressors.  Drawing initially helps Doug escape from his troubled world, but later he uses his talents to begin healing it. 

This is a particularly raw, real story, and I appreciate the no-nonsense manner in which Mr. Schmidt told it.  I wouldn’t recommend the book for any young men under 14 or 15, but it’s a must-read for anyone old enough to handle to mature themes.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Good Boy, Fergus, by David Shannon

Meet Fergus, the Scottie dog who takes disobedience to a whole new level.  This book follows him through a perfect doggy day, from chasing cats and motorcycles to being scratched on his favorite spot.  Even though Fergus has a mind of his own, he’s a perfect angel in the mind of his owners.  There’s nothing he could do that would make him anything but a “good dog!”

This picture book features very few words, and Mr. Shannon chooses to tell the real story through his hilarious illustrations.  Our kids found themselves cracking up at these situations, since they were old enough to know what was really expected of a “good dog”.  This book quickly became one of our favorites, destined to be read again and again.