It’s Monday And Here’s What I’m Reading #IMWAYR: May 5th., 2014

Mon Reading Button PB to YA


It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (brainchild of Sheila at BookJourney). 



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!


10 thoughts on “It’s Monday And Here’s What I’m Reading #IMWAYR: May 5th., 2014

  1. Great suggestions here. Thanks for the reminder about Gilly and how she can companion with One for the Murphys.

  2. There is also Wolfson’s What I Call Life, Byars The Pinballs (even older than Gilly!), Dowell’s Where I’d Like to Be and Connor’s Waiting for Normal, which isn’t about foster care as much as it is an incompetent parent. So many students adore problem novels!

  3. I’ve not heard of the Tim Green books, Tara, and this one does sound like it will fit well with some of the students who love sports and a good read! I agree with you, Gilly Hopkins is a character every one should meet-terrific book! Have a good week!

    • Hi Linda and Tara,
      Tim lives in my town and he and his wife are friends of mine. He also writes adult mysteries, but has been prolific now with his sports series books. Glad to hear your kids love them! I will pass it on, Tara! He is a great visiting author, too. I have a lot of the books, but have not read all of them. I think the first one was Football Genius and I liked it. He reads them to his kids and some classes to see them react and get feedback, at least in the early ones. I try to get to hear him at our local bookstore when a new one comes out.
      And then, Gilly Hopkins. Galadriel. I love that book and I think all teachers should read it. It was gut-wrenching on so many levels, yet such a powerful testament to love. The real kind.

  4. Thank you so much for sharing The New Kid! My early teen son is a reluctant reader and a baseball fanatic! I’m always trying to find books that will interest him – this one looks perfect! The Great Gilly Hopkins was a book that my Children’s Lit. university prof read aloud to us – it was the book that first hooked me into reading children’s literature – I have never looked back!

  5. Oh dear, I haven’t read this Katherine Paterson novel yet. I don’t think I have it in my own personal library, but it sure sounds like a novel that I would love. And it’s being made into a movie, wow! I definitely enjoyed Jacob Have I Loved, so I am familiar with Paterson’s writing, and I am sure I would fall in love with Gilly too.

  6. Thanks for sharing about Tim Green! I’ve never heard of him, and his books sound like must reads in my house. We’re all obsessive sports fans, especially football. I am always on the lookout for quality sports novels to read to my son, and this sounds like one he’d really enjoy. I read Gilly for the first time a couple of years ago and was surprised at how fresh it still seems. Definitely still a relevant title for students. And a great next choice for those who love One for the Murphys!

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