Best Book I Have Not Read

Writing, Reading, Teaching, Life, Attempting to Balance it All

Lost and Found Twins August 13, 2008

Filed under: books,school — bestbookihavenotread @ 9:08 pm
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Lost and Found by Andrew Clements

Who is this man?

I love Andrew Clements. I wanted to be clear of my bias right from the start. I love teachers who are also authors or go onto become published authors.  I particularly love introducing my fourth graders to an author that they can love as much as me. It doesn’t matter if you are a boy or a girl, Clements hits it right on the head for the intermediate aged reader. Lost and Found was not a disappointment.  The story of twin boys who have moved to a new town was one I was interested in right away as there are FIVE sets of twins coming up into fourth grade this year in my relatively small town.  I knew I was due to have one complete set and two partial sets (Isn’t that a yucky way to describe them? No wonder Jay and Ray did what they did!) within my classroom and already struggled with knowing which identical twin was which, not something I was proud of as I pride myself on knowing almost every child in the grade level. 

Jay and Ray are constantly mistaken for each other and when the opportunity arises (a school clerical error-now those neverhappen) when they move to a new town to be one person, rather than a “set”, they decide to deal with the consequences later and try their plan to just be “one” person. The brothers take turns staying home sick from school and soon realize their plan is a little more complicated than getting to have every other day off to watch tv and goof off. The lies pile up quickly until…

In addition to the two main characters, there is a great character Mrs. Cardiff, school nurse! There is a hallmark adult in each of Clement’s novels that helps pull the story together in a way that makes it believable and Mrs. Cardiff is this novel’s adult.

Unlike Bernetta Wallflower, the boys do end up getting busted and having consequences galore. While dishonesty did not pay in this book, the issues identical twins deal with was given an original treatment and gives readers, as well as parents and teachers, something to think about in their relationships with twins.

Another successful Andrew Clements novel!

While my all time favorite happens to be The School Story,  there is a whole site dedicated to Frindle, Clements first novel.

If you teach middle aged students and you don’t know Andrew Clements work you need to! I do feel he is the Beverly Cleary or Judy Blume of the decade so far.

 

Argh! A book I actually did not like! The Life and Crime of Bernetta Wallflower-

Filed under: books,school — bestbookihavenotread @ 8:25 pm
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I’ve never been inspired to write a review for a book on Amazon until now, but feel I must after reading The Life and Crime of Bernetta Wallflower by Lisa Graff! I read it after reading several favorable reviews as a possibility for my intermediate classroom library or read aloud. I actually feel yucky about writing something negative, but I feel I mus.

What did I take away from the book? Crime pays! Not a message that I want my students or children to have reinforced. Bernetta is the accused of running a forgery ring for school papers and expelled. She then is happy to meet a new friend at her father’s magic club, which she is present at after sneaking out of the house (another bad message). The boy follows her and sneaks into her bedroom (yet another bad message) and convinces her to meet him without her parents’ knowledge. He then proposes setting up a sting/con to earn money for the summer. For unknown reasons Bernetta agrees to go along with it and proceeds to tell one lie after another: to her sister- to enlist her help so she can have an imaginary babysitting job and her parents-she goes everyday to the “babysitting” job and even takes her younger brother along with her on some of the con jobs. After conning numerous people and businesses out of a considerable amount of money, her new “friend” helps her old best friend/enemy con her out of all of the money by accusing her of “stealing” her backpack. Spoiler alert-turns out her new “friend” is friends with her old “friend” and had run a similar con job in the past. The lying and stealing continue with the help on the new friend’s uncle who helps Bernetta and friend pull one last con on to get all the money back from the “evil” best friend. The kids end up with $10,000 and a summer full of lying and it is not until the last paragraph where Bernetta decides to own up to her family as to what she has really been up to! In my opinion, the biggest betrayal is not friend to friend, but Bernetta to her family. The reader is left with Bernetta having gotten away with crimes and lies with only the hint that she might get into any trouble for it. Not a message that I think any young reader needs to have. Don’t include this book in your classroom library!

I read this book after reading several positive reviews by others, so if you’d like a different opinion, check out:

Mother Reader’s blog

http://www.motherreader.com/2008/02/life-and-crimes-of-bernetta-wallflower.html

Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast

http://blaine.org/sevenimpossiblethings/?p=1125