February 6, 2012

The Seventh Level by Jody Feldman

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 1:40 am by suebe2

The Seventh Level
by Jody Feldman
Greenwillow

Travis Raines has a knack for getting into trouble.  Its not like he’s a bad kid or anything — he’d never do anything to hurt anyone else.  But he’s an active, strong minded 7th grader and when he sees something that needs doing, he does it.

When someone throw his best friend’s autographed ball cap out the window and it gets caught on a nail?  Naturally, Travis heads up to the roof and knocks the cap free.  Its just his rotten luck that the assistant principal shows up.

Now she’s keeping an eye on him and that’s bad because she isn’t the only one watching Travis.  A secret school society, known as the Legend, has issued Travis a series of challenges.  Pass them and he’s in.  But how can he hang a banner, drop things in an unused locker and dig up some plantings without getting in trouble?  Slowly but surely Travis starts to wonder if the Legend isn’t the only one dropping challenges off for him to complete.  And what if some of these challenges lead to  nothing but trouble?

This is an excellent book for anyone who loves a good puzzle.  Some of them are numeric.  Others are word based.  But all in all they are great fun and a huge challenge.  I managed to figure out all but one.

Then there’s the mystery.  Who’s in the Legend?  And if the Legend isn’t issuing all of the challenges, who is behind the others?  As Travis unravels this one, he learns that people aren’t always who you think they are.  You have to know the story behind the story.

This book is a great boy book — lots of action and suspense.  But with a strong female character, and all of those great puzzles, this is also a book that go-get-’em girls would love.

Feldman has done it again.  Pick up this book and puzzle through it with the tween in your life.

–SueBE

January 23, 2012

The Gollywhopper Games by Jody Feldman

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 1:44 am by suebe2

The Gollywhopper Games
by Jody Feldman
Greenwillow

First of all, a disclosure.  No, the book wasn’t a gift.  I checked it out from the library.  Why?  Because Jody is one of the writers that I know and run into.  That’s why I picked the book up, but it isn’t why I loved it.

Gil Goodson is a fantastic underdog.  He’s smart and a good athlete.  He’s kind and conscientious.  Why then is he an underdog?  Because his father was accused of embezzling money from his employer, Golly Toy and Game Company.  Accused, not convicted.  A jury of his peers found him  innocent.

But what about Gil’s peers?  They aren’t as certain and the outspoken ones have made his life really difficult.  Because of their harassment, he’s quit playing sports.  He doesn’t hang out with the other kids any more.  He pretty much just goes to school, mows lawns and goes home.

What a life.

Not.

Gil just wishes that they could afford to move closer to his aunt.  Then he could start over, with new kids who hadn’t seen the story on television.  He wouldn’t constantly be reminded of that whole horrible time.

And Gil has the chance to win the money.  All he has to do is win the GollyWhopper Games a series of challenges that include both logic puzzles but also physical feats.

In the end, Gil is a real winner, but not because he wins the Games.  But because he learns to recognize who his friends are and what makes someone a good person.

The whole time I was reading this, I kept thinking back to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  Don’t bother.  The sense of fun is there but Gil is so much cooler than Charlie. Where Charlie wins by not being the worst kid there, Gil has to do so much more including being a true leader and using both athletic ability and his smarts.  Readers will also enjoy getting to solve the puzzles right along with Gil — something they didn’t get to do in Dahl’s book.

An excellent middle grade read that would be suitable for grade schoolers as well.  The book is high energy and clever and sure to win a place in classrooms and school libraries.  Use it to launch a section on puzzle solving, team building or ethics.

–SueBE

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