Friday, July 17, 2009

Dark Dude

Oscar Hijuelos is a Pulitzer Prize winning author. This is his first book for young adults. Did you read The Outsiders in middle school? If you did, I bet you will like this book.

The main character is a light-skinned Cuban-American boy named Rico. His light skin is important because he is often mistaken for being Rico's neighborhood that isn't a good thing. He lives in 1960's Harlem. It is a time filled with violence -- a shooting at school, a friend overdosing on drugs, and constant harassement. Rico is a smart boy and knows enough to know that he has to get out if he ever wants to make something of himself.

Somehow he convinces Jimmy (his overdosing friend) that they need to leave the streets of Harlem and move to Wisconsin. Yes....Wisconsin. Rico has a friend, Gilberto, who lives on a farm and attends Milton College. (Milton College is located near Madison. It operated as a college until 1982 when it had to close due to financial difficulties.)

Hitchhiking to Wisconsin makes for some funny plot lines. Life in Wisconsin of the 1960's has a much slower pace and near Madison the hippie life prevails. Gilberto puts them to work painting the farm and cleaning out the outhouse. Rico's parents don't know where he is...he didn't say goodbye or leave a forwarding address. So.........

Can you leave your problems behind and start over? Read the book see what happens to Rico.


This book by Neal Shusterman is riveting and chilling -- all at the same time. I couldn't put it down.
At the very beginning the "Bill of Life" is introduced.... The Bill of Life states that human life may not be touched from the moment of conception until a child reaches the age of thirteen. However, between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, a parent may choose to retroactively 'abort' a child... ...on condition that the child's life doesn't 'technically' end. The process by which a child is both terminated and yet kept alive is called 'unwinding.' Essentially, if you are unwound your body parts become available for transplantation.
Reading that in the prologue was enough to convince me to read this book. Connor is one of the main characters. He's been in some trouble and his parents are tired of dealing with him. They make arrangements for him to be unwound. He learns of their decision and decides to runaway and make it on his own. He meets Risa and Levi - both are scheduled to be unwound. The orphanage can no longer keep Risa - she has not proved to be valuable to society. Levi is being sacrificed by his religious parents.
Imagine this type of world.....Read the book and see what happens to the three main characters. If you liked The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins you will definitely like this one!

Moving West

I only shared this with a few students -- but here it goes.......I am now an Oshkosh West Wildcat!!!!
Unfortunately, cuts in education have become more and more commonplace in Oshkosh and around the state. With all my years of experience in the district I am able to keep a job - but to stay in one building instead of 3, I decided to move up to the high school.
Those of you who knew me and Tipler and Traeger....I'll see you in the high school. I am excited to reconnect with former students. I'll miss all my 6th and 7th graders --- but, hey --- you'll be at West in a few years anyway. Keep in touch:
And as always....come to me if you need a good book to read. More posts to follow on my summer reading:)