Summer's finally here, and Derek Fallon is looking forward to pelting the UPS truck with water balloons, climbing onto the garage roof, and conducting silly investigations. But when his parents decide to send him to Learning Camp, Derek's dreams of fun come to an end.Read more...
Summer's finally here, and Derek Fallon is looking forward to pelting the UPS truck with water balloons, climbing onto the garage roof, and conducting silly investigations. But when his parents decide to send him to Learning Camp, Derek's dreams of fun come to an end. Ever since he's been labeled a "reluctant reader," his mom has pushed him to read "real" books-something other than his beloved Calvin & Hobbes.
As Derek forges unexpected friendships and uncovers a family secret involving himself (in diapers no less), he realizes that adventures and surprises are around the corner, complete with curve balls. "My Life as a Book" is a 2011 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.
- ISBN-13: 9780805089035
- ISBN-10: 0805089039
- Publisher: Christy Ottaviano Books-Henry Holt and Compan
- Publish Date: July 2010
- Page Count: 211
- Reading Level: Ages 9-12
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2010-06-28
- Reviewer: Staff
When 12-year-old Derek discovers an old newspaper article in his attic about a girl "found dead" on a beach, he becomes obsessed, especially when he learn the teenager may have died saving him from the ocean when he was just a toddler. Derek is a mischievous boy who enjoys using avocados as grenades more than reading, but as he uncovers the truth about what happened 10 years ago from those who were there, he discovers he is "surrounded by stories" both tragic and inspiring. Readers may not quite understand the intensity of Derek's obsession, which takes him from his home in California to Martha's Vineyard, where the accident took place, but his story moves quickly, thanks in part to stick figures drawn in the book's margins by Derek to define "vocabulary words." Some of these illustrations, drawn by Tashjian's 14-year-old son, Jake, are quite clever ("injustice" shows two irate students reading a sign saying "School on Saturday"). Derek's concluding speech may strain credibility, but a relatable and fun format make this a smart choice for "reluctant" readers--like Derek. Ages 9–12. (July)
Reluctant reader tackles real-life mystery
Open up My Life as a Book, and you’ll immediately be drawn in, whether you’re 9 or 90. Young Derek Fallon, the narrator, has a breezy style and lots of things going on in his life. The good news: It’s summer. The bad news: Derek hates to read, and he’s got a summer reading list. He’s been labeled a “reluctant reader,” and that’s an understatement. He likes to draw, however, and he enjoys making stick-figure drawings to illustrate vocabulary words. These fun drawings appear throughout the book, created by author Janet Tashjian’s 14-year-old son, Jake.
At the heart of Derek’s summer is a mystery: He encounters an old newspaper clipping about a teenage girl who drowned on Martha’s Vineyard while she was babysitting Derek. Derek was just a toddler and remembers nothing, and he naturally wants to know more. His mother doesn’t want to discuss it, so Derek becomes a detective, leading to a series of discoveries and adventures.
By the end of the summer, Derek has barely read one of his three assigned books, but he has learned many lessons. As he explains to his teacher, he learns that “we all mess up sometimes and struggle with things that are difficult. That even if reading is hard, everyone needs stories. I didn’t want to read the books on the list, but I wound up surrounded by stories anyway.”
My Life as a Book is a fabulous, fast-paced choice for reluctant and avid readers alike.