For some reason, I actually remember a few things from my high school government class. 1. Robert Gates is the U.S. Secretary of Defense (although I hear that’s soon to be untrue). 2. I should vote, and I should feel extremely guilty if/when I don’t vote. 3. Egg McMuffins are delicious. 4. The list of people the president considers nominating for the Supreme Court is referred to as “The Shortlist.”
Everything else I know about our government is from West Wing. Gosh, Rob Lowe is attractive.
Instead, my topic of expertise is recreational reading (specializing in middle grade novels) and, although I’m sure the reporter’s in C.J. Cregg’s press room will have a field day, I’ve decided to leak my summer shortlist.
1. The Book Thief (Zusak) “I have hated words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right.”
As millions of Jews and Germans alike die, Liesel—who learns to steal books early, kisses her love too late, and befriends the Jewish boxer living in her basement—learns about life, death, and guilt under the Führer. Appropriately, Death narrates her story with both whimsical lyricism and dirty realism.
2. Shakespeare Bats Cleanup (Koertge) “I’m just going to fool around a little, see what’s what poetry-wise.”
Kevin has been benched by mono so instead of baseball, he starts messing around with poetry. Told only through Kevin’s journaled poems, Shakespeare Bats Cleanup is a clever introduction to the power of poetry in confronting troubles with friends, girls and a house left hurting after his mother’s death.
3. Okay for Now (Schmidt) “Mr. Powell thought I was pretty good. And Lil thought I was pretty good too. I tried to remember the last time anyone told me I was pretty good at anything. You know how that feels?”
With one part empathy and two parts snark, Schmidt tells the story of Doug Swieteck, the new kid dealing with his father’s fast fists, brother’s light fingers and mother’s broken smile. Doug’s chance encounter at the town library with green-eyed Lil Pricer and James Audubon’s Birds of America changes everything.
P.S. You wouldn’t believe how hard it is to write up and endorse a book in 50 words. This shortlist is longer; other books soon to follow.