Tuesday, June 14, 2016

As Brave As You

I cannot tell you the last time I heard my husband laugh out loud at a book we were listening to in the car.  I have to be honest, he is not a reader.  He keeps his brain challenged by doing crossword puzzles every day. He lives for the Sunday NYT magazine.  But this book had him laughing and smiling on the highway while my son and I subjected him to yet, another audio book.

Subject? Not this time.  He craved more and so did we.  In fact, one day Zack and I sat in rush hour traffic for nearly an hour  (not something that usually happens to us in Albany) and were not frustrated at all because it meant 35+ minutes more than we expected to be in the car to listen.

So what makes this book so great?  Genie and his older brother Ernie, are spending a month away from their parents and home in Brooklyn to stay with their grandparents in North Hill, Virginia. Wait! Brooklyn is not like the country!  How are these boys going to survive?  Especially when they don't have Wifi!  But after picking peas, making friends with the next door neighbor, Tess (who just happens to be cute and close to Ernie's age), hiding a secret about "Michael Jackson" (Grandpop's beloved bird), exploring a big yellow house, and an attempt with a lesson on how to shoot a gun (so poignant right now and perfectly addressed in the novel), Genie and Ernie learn about the strength of family, love, courage and most certainly, that it doesn't take long to grow up, like maybe about a month?

I don't know what it is about this book, but it has stuck with me for days now.  We already gave a copy away as a gift to one of my son's friends for his birthday.  There wasn't one character I didn't love and want to hug.  Even Crab. I sympathized with him.  Teeth Man didn't scare me; he was just weird. And Dad just has a lot of stuff still held inside that he needs to figure out and maybe a hug would be a good place to start.

Guy Lockard is the reader on the audio book.  Boy is he talented!  He's got Grandma's slang down and Tess's flirts and Grandpop's insistence.  It's as if Jason Reynolds was right there telling him exactly how he imagined the voices to sound.

The whole package is perfect and I can't wait to share it with students in the fall.  It is definitely one of my top Newbery contenders so far this year and I've fallen hard for Jason!

When I took this picture over a year ago, I had no idea how much I would love Jason Reynolds.
This is his first middle grade novel, up until now he has only written YA.
You know it--his YA books on my TBR pile!

We were all moved by Jason's speech at the 2015 ALA Coretta Scott King Awards breakfast but no one more than my friend, Susan.  I was with her when we ran into him the next day and am so glad I got this picture of the two of them together.

And the next time I see Jason?  We will leap, for sure!

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