Friday, January 21, 2011
Book Review: My Life As A Book
Author: Janet Tashjian
Illustrator: Jake Tashjian
From her website:
WHEN MY SON, JAKE, WAS YOUNGER, HE AND HIS FRIENDS DEVOURED CALVIN AND HOBBES BOOKS. (THEY STILL DO.) I WANTED TO WRITE A NOVEL THAT WOULD HAVE THE SAME KIND OF HUMOR AND HEART AS THOSE GREAT COMIC STRIPS. JAKE’S ILLUSTRATIONS THROUGHOUT ‘MY LIFE AS A BOOK’ ADD SO MUCH TO THE STORY; I THINK THEY’RE GREAT -- THIS SITE IS FULL OF THEM!
I have two thoughts on this book. At first I could not stand the main character. I thought that he was a little brat who needed to be put in his place. However, as the story moves along I realize that he is not quite so bad. He hates reading. Despises it and wants nothing to do with it. He likes to cause kid problems and pull pranks and just have fun. His parents are constantly trying to have teaching moments with everything that goes on in the world and this just drives him nuts.
After reading the entire novel, I decided that this a perfect read for those kids who don't enjoy reading. Here they have a character who is just like them. I cannot believe all the effort he puts into not reading and like I tell some of my students, "If you just put half the energy you put into not doing the work, you would have great grades and even more time to have fun."
This book does a couple things for me. It is funny. When he states he has a teacher by the name of "SATAN" I laughed out loud. I could just see this scene so perfectly. It also addresses a few key issues. Why do we force kids to read things they don't want to? Let them be the deciding force in their reading preferences. Derek refused to read the summer reading books, but he read quite a bit doing his research about his past. What is wrong with the comics he was reading? Sometimes I think that by forcing our kids and students to read this or that we are only making the experience worse. Especially if they struggle and don't like it in the first place.
I like the idea of the illustrating vocabulary words. Her son has done a nice job with this and is a good strategy for readers.
Overall, I liked this book. It was a good story with some scenes that were very funny. The storyline outside of Derek not wanting to read kept my interest and I thought the ending wrapped things up perfectly. This is a perfect middle grade read.