Monday, August 14, 2006

Jumping the Scratch by Sarah Weeks

I really liked this book. The story centers around Jamie Reardon, a fifth grader who has always heard that bad things come in threes. That certainly seems to be the case for him. First, his cat dies, then his father runs off with a cashier from the local discount store, and then, his aunt Sapphy is injured in an accident at the cherry factory where she works, and loses her short-term memory. After Jamie and his mother move in with Sapphy to help take care of her, he hopes that now his life will go back to normal. But unfortunately, there is something else bad waiting for him -- something that he later tries in vain to forget -- even going so far as to let his neighbor, a strange girl name Audrey Krouch, hypnotize him. All the whille Jamie continues to try to find the magic trigger that will help Sapphy's memory jump the scratch, like the needle on her favorite record. This book is sad in parts, funny in parts, and the characters really ring true. The relationship between Jamie and his aunt Sapphy reminds me of the mother-daughter relationship in another of the author's books, So Be It. Review by Jane Malmberg

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Rules by Cynthia Lord

I really enjoyed this book. The story is told first person by 12-year-old Catherine, whose brother David is autistic. David's behavior is not always what Catherine would like it to be, so she has a constantly evolving set of rules to help him, for instance: If the bathroom door is closed, knock first (especially if Catherine has a friend over)! Some rules are made to be broken, such as: No toys in the fish tank. David usually announces this rule as he comes into Catherine's room, and then she knows that he has put yet another toy in the fish tank. Catherine feels that her social life is ruined by David's inappropriate and irrational behaviors. She also feels that her parents don't pay enough attention to her, and that they expect too much of her. While waiting for David at his occupational therapy, Catherine draws the attention of a wheelchair-bound, non-verbal boy named Jason. To make up for sketching a picture of him without his permission, she illustrates some word cards for his "communication book" and she starts to look forward to seeing him every week. The book is funny and paints a good picture of life with a disabled sibling. Review by Stacy Church