Needle and ThREAD

October Reading

As part of the Needle and Thread: Stitching for Literacy 2007 Bookmark Challenge, I am encouraging stitchers to model the behavior we’re trying to promote: reading for fun. I am reading for fun every day. Okay, I read for fun every day of the year, but that’s beside the point.

The books that I’ve read so far during the Bookmark Challenge are:

As I’ve said before, I have no intention of ragging on books I don’t like. My tastes are my tastes alone. I will however rave about books I really, really, really like. So I will pick a favorite from this batch. Just because I pick one to call my favorite doesn’t mean I didn’t like the others. It’s possible, but you’ll never know for sure.

Picking a favorite can be hard. It was the second time through the Judy Moody books, so I’m going to knock them out of the running. The fact that it was the second time through might hint at what I think of them, though. Maybe.

Drum roll please. My favorite book from this batch is…

flip-cover.jpgFlip, by David Lubar.

For starters, the premise is delightfully imaginative. Twin siblings find lost alien disks that contain stories of great human beings. When the disks are flipped a certain way, they embed in the kids’ hands and for a few hours the kids become the person whose story is contained on the disk. They don’t know who they will become when they flip a disk. The trouble and fun caused by becoming other people reveals interesting things about the kids and they grow to better understand themselves, each other, and life.

Normally, I’m not a sci-fi or fantasy person, but that element is merely the backdrop of the story. The kids’ real predicaments are grounded in real life–bullying, sibling and parental relationships, friendship–and are thus accessible to the likes of me.

The idea of becoming someone else–especially a famous someone–is appealing. Come on! What would you give to be Einstein or Babe Ruth for a few hours? These transformations set up interesting and funny situations that keep the story rolling and allow the kids to grow and change. I like the way the bully is handled in the end. While I recognize it’s probably the hardest way in the universe for a kid to deal with a bully, it is nonetheless a good way, and its connection to history is nice. Kids should be aware of the approach and the great person behind it.

The book is told from many points of view in short chapters that feel like a movie storyboard–as if I know what that is. It gives the story a nice zippy pace, and adds dimension to multiple characters. The twin siblings, a friend, and the bully all have depth. Supporting characters do not; they tend to have single traits highlighted: the shallow, pretty, popular girl; the blustery father who can’t understand his kid; the dumb-jock coach. I can’t decide if this is a real weakness or not. It’s hard and time-consuming to give every character in a book depth. For my part, it doesn’t matter. The important parts of the story are well done and satisfying.

Categories: Needle and ThREAD, Reading