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What’s New on My Nightstand: Friday Book Review — “The Perfect Score,” by Rob Buyea; “Nutcracked,” by Susan Adrian; “Choose to Matter: Being Courageously and Fabulously You,” by Julie Foudy; and “Bugs of Washington and Oregon,” by John Acorn and Ian Sheldon

November 3rd, 2017

Starting out with…

“The Perfect Score,” by Rob Buyea (Delacorte Press, 2017, 358 pages, $16.99) is the latest from the author of the “Mr. Terupt” series. Nothing like getting the scoop from a former teacher. Buyea taught elementary and high school, and coached, besides that. His ear for dialogue and his respect for kids shows. The students at Lake View Middle School are thrown when their expected teacher bails and they end up with an old lady, Mrs. Woods, and a hippie without shoes, Mrs. Magenta. Well. We’ll have to see how this goes…

The book is told from the perspective of five students, Randi, Natalie, Trevor, Scott and Gavin, as they navigate the waters of middle school.

In a direct, practical way, the book tackles their day-to-day dramas, but takes on serious issues, too. These include (but aren’t limited to) physical and emotional abuse by siblings and friends; the challenges of elder care; overbooked days and demanding parents. Buyea also takes on one of the biggest challenges in modern day education: the devil that is standardized testing aka CSAs (or Complex Student Abuse, as the students dub them). Mrs. Magenta is compared to “a bird with its wings clipped” when she is told to do nothing but test prep and is not allowed to teach.

I speak from experience, y’all. Excessive standardized testing hurts teachers and staff as much as it hurts students. So I appreciate that Buyea is willing to tackle the subject.

Great book, great characters, and a good book list, woven throughout. Author, author! Buyea gives shout-outs to Jerry Spinelli (“Crash”), Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (“Shiloh”), Gordon Korman (“Ungifted”), Eve Bunting (“The Memory String”) and loads of others. Nice! :)

“Nutcracked,” by Susan Adrian (Random House, New York, 2017, 233 pages, $16.99). This new release, like “The Perfect Score,” is about friendship and its complications. Unlike “The Perfect Score,” it includes a possibly-possessed nutcracker as one of the main characters. Hmmm.. very interesting. The plot is lively, the descriptions of the dance world are spot-on, and its well-written. This one is a perfect stocking stuffer for the upcoming holiday season.

“Choose to Matter: Being Courageously and Fabulously You,” by Julie Foudy (ESPN W, 2017, 287 pages, $17.99) is an inspirational book by the 13-year captain of the U.S. Women’s National soccer team. Her writing “team” includes Robin Roberts (from “Good Morning America”), soccer players Mia Hamm and Alex Morgan, softball star Jessica Mendoza, and others. The book includes space to write, different exercises to work through, and loads of positivity.

“Bugs of Washington and Oregon,” by John Acorn and Ian Sheldon. (Lone Pine, 2001, 160 pages, $14.95.) This is just a super-cool, well-illustrated non-fiction book that’s been sitting on my shelf for a few years now, and I thought it deserved a mention.

Bon appetit, babies!

WM

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