Saturday, March 15, 2008

Small Steps

Author: Sachar, Louis
Publisher and Date: Delacorte Press, 2006
Genre: Novel
Age Range: 4th-6th grades

Summary: Two years after leaving Camp Green Lake, Armpit is back home in Austin, Texas. He and his disabled neighbor, Ginny, are good friends and an encouragement to each other. Armpit is trying to turn his life around and is doing a good job as he digs for Raincreek Irrigation and Landscaping under a man named Jack Dunlevy. X-ray, his friend from Camp Green Lake, gets him back into a mess of trouble when he thinks they can make some fast money by buying and re-selling Kaira DeLeon concert tickets. Armpit and Ginny go to Kaira's concert with counterfeit tickets and Ginny has a seizure when they get caught. The two end up meeting Kaira and watching the show from backstage. Kaira takes a liking to Armpit and has him flown out to another concert where he is framed by her agents and almost killed by her step-father and manager, El Genius. Kaira survives the attack, the evidence to frame Armpit is used against Kaira's step father, and Kaira continues to write her music.

Response: I loved this book! It's setting was completely different from Holes, but I like how a couple of the characters carried over into this new adventure. I like how Armpit is straightening his life out, but still manages to step into some trouble with his mischievous friend X-ray.
Armpit's relationships with two people really stuck out to me. The first was with him and his 10-year-old disabled neighbor. Armpit was able to be himself around Ginny, and they really encouraged one another. Ginny did not judge him because of his record and staying at Camp Green Lake and Armpit did not judge her because of her disability and stutter.
The other relationship I liked was that between Armpit and Kaira. It reminds me of relationships my friends and I had with boys in elementary school. It was awkward and you acted goofy but it made you all excited at the same time. Their relationship with one another was innocent and adventurous. It was innocent in that they were both young and didn't know what relationships were about. They were just having fun. The adventurous part comes in where Kaira is a superstar and Armpit is a kid with a record. They ran off together at the country club and she flew him out to meet her for another one of her concerts. Their relationship spurred those working for Kaira to frame Armpit when he really didn't do anything that time.

Teaching Ideas: This book teaches that you should not judge others because of their past or how they appear. People with disabilities still have feelings and can communicate, they may just do it differently. It takes me back to Because of Winn-Dixie where Gloria Dump tells Opal not to judge other people because of their past but to look at what they're doing now.
I think it also teaches a good lesson on gambling and counterfeiting. It is not wise to invest in something just for some quick money. I think that is a growing problem in today's society and children should learn from the mistakes of others early on so they will not have to repeat them.

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