“The reading list –unfortunately- isn’t going anywhere either. I stare at it and wonder what I’ve gotten myself into. One of the books is about a kid and his dog over summer vacation and all the exciting things they do together and the lessons the boy learns. I have a dog and –trust me- that stuff only happens in books.”
Derek Fallon does not like to read. He has a fantastic summer planned out with activities that interest him. When his parents decide to send Derek to “Learning Camp”, he can tell there’ll be no fun this summer. Over the summer Derek makes new friends, learns about his past, and actually finishes one of the books on his summer reading list, without it killing him! Derek’s teacher insists he draw vocabulary cartoons which litter the margins of the book as drawn by the author’s son. Derek’s plight as a reluctant reader should draw other reluctant readers to his tale as he discovers reading can be pleasurable, thanks to an understanding teacher who shows Derek how to see the book in his mind.
Recommended by: Alice L. Cyphers, Librarian and Reading Specialist, Pennsylvania, USA
Reluctant reader anyone? "Somebody has to stop the madness," and Derek is just the guy. Derek does not like to read, period, end of sentence. His parents have tried everything including two chocolate chips a page to bribe him into finishing a book. Now he has a sentence of his own. He has to read three books over the summer break. Worst punishment known to boy-kind and he will get a little help in Learning Camp.
Derek is the kind of kid who can think of plenty of things to do all by himself. We're talking about drawing grids on avocados so they look like grenades and mounding bags of potting soil defensive structures to create the best avocado grenade fight ever. He sees possibilities everywhere he goes. His dad falls asleep and Derek whips out the markers to add sideburns and a mustache to his dad's face... just trying to help him look a bit younger.
But this summer he is sentenced to Learning Camp and all the fun that a twelve year old wild man can have there. He's also being haunted by a newspaper article he found in the family attic. Seems that Derek at the age of two had something to do with the death of a seventeen year old girl.
The story pops with the ingenuity of Derek's imagination and intrigues with the curious connection between Derek and the girl who drowned. Along the way Derek learns something about labeling others and perhaps being labeled himself. Highly entertaining and a quick read for those reluctant readers out there who look for a few wild rides and inspiring antics to savor and consider along with some fun illustrations in the margins. A nice book to hand those ten year olds who really wish the books still had pictures.
These is a great read alike for Jack Gantos' Joey Pigza books or his Jack books. Same zany imagination and follow through.
211 pages Ages 8-12
Recommended by: Barb Langridge, abookandahug.com