Monday, August 18, 2008

The Dangerous Days of Daniel X - A MotherTalk Review

The "reluctant reader" is a term we've been reading and hearing about a lot lately, usually referring to boys who just can't seem to get hooked on reading. Part of the solution is providing reluctant readers with books they actually want to read, rather than books we think they should be reading. The Dangerous Days of Daniel X is James Patterson's (and his co-author Michael Ledwidge) contribution to this concept of adolescent literature (although the jacket cover reads "James Patterson has written this story for readers from ten to a hundred and ten.").

When I first received a complementary copy of this book from MotherTalk, I was a little bit surprised at the cover of the book - red and black tones with an image of a solar eclipse on the front - it seemed more fitting for adult Clancy fans than for tween and teen boys. I can tell you that even as a brand spankin' new library media specialist, I know that kids do judge a book by its cover and I'm not so sure how much this one would appeal to them.

Moving from the exterior to the interior, we find the protagonist Daniel X, orphaned as a toddler, dedicated to avenging the death of his parents by taking on a number of gruesome aliens. My gut reaction to this book is that it seemed more of an outline than a finished product. It seemed sparse in places and I really did not feel attached to Daniel or particularly inspired by his mission. The nods to popular culture (PlayStation3s and Gladiator) are cute, but will become dated rather quickly. This book was a very quick read for me;I did appreciate the short chapters (often just two pages or so) and I think this will appeal to readers who get a little boost from completing smaller chunks of text rather than a feeling of slogging through long chapters.

I couldn't help but think that books such as Harry Potter and the soaring popularity of graphic novels such as American Born Chinese have shown us that reluctant readers are also drawn to complex tales with well developed characters, but I suppose even adults enjoy the occasional light fare and not all books for teens and tweens need to result in a bout of soul-searching. The Dangerous Days of Daniel X may accomplish exactly what James Patterson intended and inspire readers to read other books with similar but more richly fleshed out themes such as Sabriel or Feed.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Congratulations Clothesline Challengers!

You did it!

You were non-dryer dryers for some, all, or none (that's okay) for May, June, and July.

Some of you started at intermediate and quickly climbed to advanced.

Some of you, like me, may have had illusions of grandeur and fell from advanced to...well...lower. Tornados not withstanding.

Kelli is enjoying her peg bag courtesy of Joanie at Nini Makes.

Blue Speckled Eggs kept a very impressive running tally of her loads as did Dayna.

Green and Thrifty Mama
did not make the 50% as she had hoped, but she did use her clothesline more than she had been. Congratulations!

Some lovely pictures were posted here, here (hee, hee) and here.

A few found the cure for those crunchy towels.

Did I miss a recent clothesline-related post of yours? Let me know and I will be sure to share them in my next post...

As a thanks and congratulations to you, I have a giveaway: Leslie Evans has just released her sequel to Leaf Jumpers and I can tell you that it's a beauty. Winter Trees is also authored by Carole Gerber and her talent for explaining the complexity and individuality of each tree in rhyme is really amazing. Nothing is forced and, did I mention, the illustrations are Evans-As-Usual beautiful?

All challengers are automatically entered as I promised, but if you would like to up the ante, comment on this post, after visiting Leslie's site...tell me which children's book of hers you would also like, and, if you're the lucky winner you will also receive that book along with Winter Trees. Please comment by midnight U.S. Eastern time Wednesday, August 6th. And yes, I will ship internationally. Please remember - Blogger does not automatically tell me what email address you are writing from, so please, if your post does not reveal who you are, leave some notion of how I can contact you.

***Update: Please let me clarify as my instructions seem now rather murky. If you are listed on the sidebar you do not need to comment to enter. You only need to comment if you desire a second book from Sea Dog Press. If you are not listed on the sidebar, you may enter by commenting on this post - if you please, tell me how you are saving energy in your home - you may also put yourself in the running for a second bok by, again, visiting Sea Dog Press and letting me know which children's book is your favorite. Signed, -The Management***

Congratulations! You should be very proud of yourselves!