An APB for Friendly Publishing Folks! (Please RT!)

This summer, I am running a camp for bookworms.  Inspired by Thalia’s Book Camp, run by Symphony Space in NYC, I will be spending a week at our local community college with 7th, 8th, and 9th graders who love to read.  Before camp, they will read Ashfall, Breadcrumbs, and Tankborn (I am so excited about all of these books!).  Over the course of 5 days, I am planning to do a few author Skype visits, writing activities, mini book groups, and other activities connected to the books.  I’m brainstorming as you read this.

But something else I would love to do is connect with folks in the publishing world.  We can’t go to NYC, but I’d love to have an editor, cover designer, agent, or anyone else in publishing Skype in for a few minutes and talk to the kids about their work.  All of the attendees are guaranteed to be bookworms, but I doubt they have much knowledge about the process of making books.  It would be a great experience for them!

I’m hoping to reach out to people who read the blog.  We wouldn’t take up much of your time- maybe 25-30 minutes? If you are interested in talking to the kids, it would be during the week of August 13th-17th.  Please email me  (thereadingzone@gmail.com) if you have questions or if you are interested.  Thanks so much!

 

 

*Feel free to pass this blog post around!  Thanks!

Final Four by Paul Volponi

Despite working on my National Board portfolio almost non-stop during March, I did make time to read a few books and watch March Madness.  March Madness is my favorite time of year and I love rooting for the Cinderella teams, the underdogs, the surprises.  When I received a copy of Paul Volponi’s The Final Four from the publisher, I made sure that I put on top of my TBR pile.  I read it between the second and third rounds and it was better than any game I watched on TV.  This is a fantastic book and one I highly recommend for high school libraries.  I also think it will appeal to middle school readers.

The book is told over the course of overtime in a single Final Four game.  The reader sees the game through the eyes of four individual players, with snippets shared from the announcers and newspaper articles.  Malcolm is a boy from the inner city whose sister was killed in a drive-by shooting. He is only interested in looking out for himself and he is a one-and-done player, leaving for the NBA as soon as the season ends. MJ, Michael Jordan (the most unfortunate name for a boy who likes basketbal, who is trying to do well in school and make a better life for himself. Roko, a Croatian teen whose uncle was killed by the mafia in his home country, is trying to honor his uncle’s memory. Crispin is from Louisiana and is engaged to the head cheerleader, but suddenly isn’t sure it’s what either of them should be doing.  All four players come with baggage and they all have to contribute in the final moments of the most important game of their life.

The set-up is spot-on.  I felt like I was watching the game and I was on the edge of my seat throughout the book.  All four players ring true and the background information is great.  And this isn’t just an action-packed story about a basketball game.  Volponi forces the reader to think about the money and prestige that come along with NCAA basketball.  Is it enough to “pay” college athletes with a free education when their school is potentially making millions off of their work on the court? Should college players be allowed to play a single season and then move into the NBA at 18 or 19 years old?

Volponi is a great realistic fiction writer and all of his novels are must-haves for high school libraries.  The Final Four is another slam dunk from Volponi and I can’t recommend it enough.  Even those who don’t particularly like basketball will find themselves pulled into the world that is NCAA March Madness.

 

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