Dodger by Terry Pratchett was a 2013 Printz Honor Book about a guttersnipe living in Victorian-Era London. He makes a living my being a “tosher” – someone who walks through the sewers of London picking up anything of value that has washed down the drains. One night he emerges from the sewer to see a young girl trying to escape from two thugs, and he rescues her. Now Dodger is on a mission. He is going to make sure she’s safe from whoever is after her. That determination brings him into contact with “peelers” (police), journalists (most notably Charles Dickens who I liked much more in this book than by anything I’ve ever read BY him), Sweeney Todd (the murderous barber), and Queen Victoria.
This is one of my favorite books of this challenge. Once I put it down I wished I could immediately pick up another adventure with good old Dodger at the helm. He’s charismatic, honorable (despite his best intentions), people smart, and full of adventure. I had seen this book mentioned by librarians all over the country as a favorite. I just hadn’t been motivated to pick it up to read for myself until this challenge. I waited too long. This is one exceptional read.
What do you think – if the underbelly of London society had a yearbook, what would they write about good ole Dodger?
Struts and Frets by Jon Skovron – Meet Sammy, a musician with three things on his mind 1) Competing in Battle of the Bands, 2) how to maintain a friendship with his best friend and date her at the same time and 3) Is the grandpa he knows and loves gone for good. In this quick read you’ll find the answers to all those questions. Struts and Frets made it into the top ten of the 2013 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults list.
I enjoyed reading a story about normal teenaged guys who also happen to have a passion for music. It was a fun read that didn’t get too serious . . . until something happens to Sammy’s mom near the end of the book. That was a shocker. If you’re looking for a summer read where you don’t have to think hard, but the book has a bit of substance without a preachy overtone, then Struts and Frets may be for you.
Where’d You Go Bernadette was an Alex Award winner. The entire book is about Bernadette, a cheeky, easily annoyed, agoraphobic, artistic, volatile mother who goes missing. Yet the book is mostly written by her daughter Bee, who compiles e-mails, letters, articles, memos, and other documents to get a picture of what was going on with her mother before her disappearance.
This description may sound a little zany, but believe me this book is all over the map and is well worth the journey. I literally laughed out loud and had to read portions to innocent bystanders. It was a real treat to read something funny after some of the downers I’ve read for this challenge (I’m looking at you Girlchild). Bernadette happens to have a feud going on with her neighbor that becomes a major plot point. She communicates with her virtual assistant living in India so she can arrange Bernadette’s life and fight her battles for her, something which also contributes to Bernadette’s disappearance. Also, this post wouldn’t be complete without my mentioning that the author has a seeming genius picking out names for her characters. There’s a long waiting list for this book, but it is worth the wait for such a quirky entertaining read.
What do you think, what is the most interesting character name you’ve ever run across in a book?