Wednesday, October 31, 2007
This is the Stuff
Mario Perez is an 8th grader who, at the beginning of this school year, had never read a chapter book on his own. He was pretty sure there was no reason to read. He wasn't belligerent about it like some students can be; Mario had just never considered it. His English teacher approached me to help her solve the riddle of what Mario might like to read. He doesn't read well, so that was an added challenge. I/we/he chose the Shredderman series by Wendelin Van Draanan. According to School Library Journal (aka the Bible), "This entertaining story of an egghead who cannot keep his shoes tied who uses his brains to triumph over the worst bully in school will keep even reluctant readers laughing and wanting more stories about this cyber superhero." Having read some Van Draanan, I knew she was good. Even though these books are about 5th graders, I was pretty sure that subtitles like "Attack of the Tagger", "Enemy Spy", and "Meet the Gecko" would transcend age.
Mario read the first book in the series. Then the second. Then he came to get the third book and brought his friend to check out the first. The friend brought a friend who brought a friend who brought a friend, and pretty soon I couldn't keep the books on the shelf. I was turning away disappointed 8th grade boys on a daily basis. Mario had started a buzz.
Mario has gone off-track recently, meaning that he is not in school again until January. Most kids stay home during this time, watching tv, playing video games, babysitting, maybe working with their parents. Mario is here, in the library, right now, as I write this. Right now. Here. In the library. Yesterday he sat in one chair for 2 hours and 34 minutes and listened to the audio book of How to Eat Fried Worms. Today he came to school at 7:30 in the morning (did i mention he's on vacation?) and he is sitting in the same chair, unmoving, listening to another audio book (today it is the Misfits by James Howe, a great book). He's not leaving until it's finished. This will be his 21st book since July. He has caught the bug, and I have been so lucky to watch him discover this pleasure that is my favorite of favorites.