100 Chapter Books Project: Jacob Have I Loved

JacobHaveILoved

There have only been two of the 63 books that I’ve read so far for the Top 100 Chapter Books list that I disliked enough that I didn’t want to recommend them at all. The first was Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. Jacob Have I Loved (1980) by Katherine Paterson is the second. I’m happy to see in the comments on the post about this book on A Fuse 8 Production that someone else hated it too. I think those who voted on this book either didn’t remember it well or they could look past the absolutely horrid ending message — not to mention the fact that I really think this is a YA book and not a middle grade chapter book as it dances around the topic of sex a few different times.

What it’s about: Louise is a very angry girl, mad that her twin sister Caroline is talented and pretty and, seemingly, loved more than her.

Age level: Grades 6+

Best part: The writing about the small island in Chesapeake Bay was quite good.

Worst part: Everything else — the characters, the messages, the fact that the main character is probably the worst of the bunch. None of it sat well with me.

Verdict: Skip

So you’re probably wondering what the horrible message was. Louise finally stops being a whiny brat and decides to get her butt off the island and become a doctor. Yet, once she’s in college, she lets some jerky professor tell her that women should be nurses instead and she immediately changes course. Argh! This made me so mad! I already wasn’t enjoying the book but then this was a million times worse than anything else that happened in the story. Blech. What a way to completely ruin a character that was finally being redeemed.

Well, thankfully, I get to move on to a new book! I’ve heard good things about My Side of the Mountain but I honestly don’t know what it’s even about. I hope it really is good!

*****
Schedule – August through November
 
August 31 – #77 My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George (1959)
September 15 – #46 The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi (1990)
September 30 – #55 All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor (1951)
October 15 – #23 Hatchet by Gary Paulsen (1989)
October 31 – #36 The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare (1958)
November 15 – #88 The BFG by Roald Dahl (1982)

100 Chapter Books Project: Wonder

wonder

 

The most current book on the Top 100 Chapter Books list is R.J. Palacio’s Wonder from 2012. It’s only at number 65 but I anticipate that, if this poll is ever done again, it will work its way up over the years. It’s a refreshingly honest story about growing up.

What it’s about: August Pullman was born with massive craniofacial deformities. After many surgeries and years of homeschooling, his parents have decided that, for fifth grade, it’s time that he attend school. The book follows Auggie, his older sister Via, and their friends through this first year that he spends at Beecher Prep.

Age level: Grades 4+

Best part: I loved the multiple viewpoints. Though Auggie has the most obvious trial to deal with, he’s not the only one who doesn’t have an easy way through things. We see many realistic teenage trials like loss of friends, parental divorce, poverty, and academics.

Worst part: The tears that this book caused me. You really couldn’t read this one in public because it will make you cry like half a dozen times!

Verdict: Buy

There are a few parts of this book that will probably feel dated later because Palacio uses pop culture references quite a bit. Still, the overall messages of the book are so important and universal that this story will have staying power regardless. Kids and adults both love this book too which means it will always be in libraries. We don’t have a copy in our home library yet but we will soon.

The next book up is Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson, which probably means it will not be merely tear-inducing, rather it will be heart-wrenching-sob-inducing. I’m looking forward to it being a strong story.

*****
Schedule – August through October
August 15 – #43 Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson (1980)
August 31 – #77 My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George (1959)
September 15 – #46 The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi (1990)
September 30 – #55 All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor (1951)
October 15 – #23 Hatchet by Gary Paulsen (1989)
October 31 – # The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare (1958)

100 Chapter Books Project: From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

mixedupfiles

 

The top ten of the Top 100 Chapter Books list is obviously a prestigious place to end up. Number seven on the list is From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (1967) by E.L. Konigsburg. I don’t think that it’s because it’s one of the most amazing children’s books ever written but rather that it’s a very solid and interesting book that has a timelessness to it that would easily keep it in the minds of most readers long past childhood.

What it’s about: Claudia Kincaid feels unappreciated at home so she decides to run away from home. She thinks the best place to hide would be the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and the best companion would be her younger brother, Jamie, who has more money saved than she does. They set off on an adventure but unexpectedly find a mystery to solve.

Age level: Grades 3-5

Best part: There’s a lot of really interesting information in the story about history and art and it is presented in a way that makes learning fun. It’s also fascinating as a period story with automats and laundromats and small change being enough to buy a lot of things.

Worst part: The story is narrated by Mrs. Frankweiler herself and she switches between “talking” to someone in a letter and telling the story of Claudia and Jamie. I started out listening to the audiobook but changed to a paper copy because I couldn’t tell immediately when these changes were happening. It was a tad confusing.

Verdict: Buy

Well, it turned out that I hadn’t ever read this book. I wish I had though because it’s fun and I would have loved that two of Claudia’s brothers had the same name as my brothers and that she was also a beleaguered older sister. I never thought about running away but I certainly longed for some space and quiet! One of my common complaints about books on this list are that they seem too dated for modern readers. This book is obviously from another time but it’s written in a way that the time seems interesting and really comes to life. The characters could easily exist today and their relationships are natural and believable. This is simply a solid story that will leave most readers satisfied.

Just a quick note to say that this was my 61st post of this project. Holy cow! Only 39 books left to read (ten of which will be rereads). I’m quite excited about the next book, Wonder, as it’s one that Z asked to buy for himself after they read it in class. It’s a newer book but has already landed on many “top” lists.

*****
Schedule – July through October
July 31 – #65 Wonder by R.J. Palacio (2012)
August 15 – #43 Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson (1980)
August 31 – #77 My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George (1959)
September 15 – #46 The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi (1990)
September 30 – #55 All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor (1951)
October 15 – #23 Hatchet by Gary Paulsen (1989)