My students, especially the boys, love Tim Green. We have every book written by this former NFL star defensive end, sportscaster, and now best selling author. Tim visited our school recently on a book tour, and after listening to his entertaining and informative presentation I decided that I had to read some of his books – beginning with the latest one: New Kid. Here’s the jacket copy:
It’s hard being the new kid, both on and off the field.
It’s bases loaded, bottom of the last inning, and Tommy Rust is up at bat in the championship game. This is the moment he’s been waiting for. But then his father barges onto the field, and Tommy knows what will happen next. They will be leaving immediately—again—because Tommy and his dad are on the run.
Now Tommy is in a new school, in a new town, and he is no longer known as Tommy. Brock Nickerson is the name of the new kid, and finding a place for himself is proving to be a challenge, especially when his new friend is the bully from the wrong side of the tracks. Things aren’t looking good for Brock, so in an effort to fit in, he accepts a dare to throw a rock at the travel-team coach’s window.
Coach Hudgens has demons of his own that he’s dealing with, and many say he’s “washed up.” The travel team he’s been running has lost every ball game in the last year. However, when Coach catches Brock in the act, he’s more impressed by his pitching arm than angry at the prank. But can Brock save Coach’s team . . . and maybe Coach himself? Or will Brock’s father make him be the new kid in yet another town?
New Kid moves quickly, but the characters are beautifully crafted and real – and the story is much more than a sports story. It is also a story about difficult choices, friendship and perseverance. Brock’s father’s mysterious job and their life on the run adds a sense of danger and excitement to the story, but Brock’s yearning to settle down and have a real life is the real heart of New Kid. I loved that there were kind adults in this story, and that even the bullies were written about in a generous way – they have reasons for their meanness and are not without hope. I hadn’t thought of including Green’s books in our book club selections,. but now I will definitely do so, for I know that they will lead to many rich discussions.
One of my students read and loved Linda Mullaly Hunt’s One For The Murphy’s , and asked for a book “just like it.” I immediately thought of Katherine Paterson’s The Great Gilly Hopkins, which I dug out from my book shelf and passed on right away. Of course, seeing this old favorite made me think about how much I’d loved Gilly and her story…and so I read it again. Here’s the jacket copy for those who have not read the book yet:
Eleven-year-old Gilly has been stuck in more foster families than she can remember, and she’s disliked them all. She has a county-wide reputation for being brash, brilliant, and completely unmanageable. So when she’s sent to live with the Trotters — by far the strangest family yet — Gilly decides to put her sharp mind to work. Before long she’s devised an elaborate scheme to get her real mother to come rescue her.
But the rescue doesn’t work out, and the great Gilly Hopkins is left thinking that maybe life with the Trotters wasn’t so bad …
An eleven-year-old foster child tries to cope with her longings and fears as she schemes against everyone who tries to be friendly.
Gilly’s loneliness and desperate belief that she has a right to what every child does – someone to love her – makes her such an interesting character to commit to. My old paperback copies of The Great Gilly Hopkins may look rather battered, but I think this is one old favorite to order new copies of and bring back into circulation for both book clubs as well as independent reading. And the timing couldn’t be better because Gilly’s story is in the process of being made into a movie!