Friday, September 2, 2016

Our Labor Day hours are 10 am to 5 pm - plus just out this week is "Ghost," the new novel from Jason Reynolds.

Happy Labor Day weekend!

I wanted to get the word out about our holiday hours. We're open 10 am to 5 pm on Labor Day. I believe that Cafe Hollander, Bel Air, Pizza Man, Original Pancake House, and Henry's are all open. Let me double check. Okay, I'm back. Looks like regular hours, so of course the Pancake House is breakfast and lunch only, and Henry's is dinner.

The Downer Theater is showing two popular films, Southside with You, which chronicles the courtship of Barack and Michelle Obama, and Florence Foster Jenkins, which chronicles the unusual singing career of a tone-deaf socialite. It's unusual for me to see a film in a theater, but I just saw Florence Foster Jenkins, after a number of Boswell visitors told me they laughed rather continuously. Who doesn't need a good laugh?

On Tuesday, September 6, it's time for the onslaught of fall releases to begin, but I'm going to chat a bit about an August 30 release, the new novel from Jason Reynolds. While I still haven't gotten to his first middle grade novel, As Brave as You, I wanted to sink my teeth into Ghost, as Todd and I were presenting books to a group of middle school teachers, and after speaking to our coordinator, I decided that this would be a great addition. As an aside, if you can put together 30+ teachers, we'd do this for your district as well. Ask me for details.

Several events ago, Reynolds had told me all the books he hoped to have published, and Ghost was one of them, a four-book cycle about kids on a track team. Ghost is in fact the hoped-for nickname of our protagonist, Castle Cranshaw. His mom is working hard and raising him alone because Dad's in prison for trying to shoot them.

Castle's mom can't give him all the things that other kids have, most notably track shoes. This becomes an issue when Castle (we're now going to use his preferred name, Ghost) comes across an after school track team. He knows that he can run as fast as these other kids can, but the problem is that even after he proves himself, he's going to have to stay out of trouble to stay on the team. But that is going to be tough. What Ghost goes through to get a good pair of running shoes. Sigh.

Jason Reynolds has once again created a great empathetic character in Ghost and he's set the stage for us to know a bit about the problems that the other kids in the series are going to face. And much like The Boy in the Black Suit, he's found an older character in Coach who can help be a surrogate father figure. Much like Kwame Alexander, Reynolds uses sports to draw kids (notably boys!) into the story, though I should note that the other books in the series will focus on two other boys, Lu and Sunny, and one girl, Patina, who I am kind of already in love with.

It's relatively short for a middle grade book, but that just means that once the others are out, a kid will want to jump right into the next installment. Karen Yingling at School Library Journal wrote: "The focus on track athletics--a subject sorely lacking in the middle grade space--combined with the quality of Reynolds's characters and prose, makes this an essential purchase." And here's a longer review from Elizabeth Bird, who notes correctly: "I don’t think the man could write a straight one-dimensional villain to save his soul."

So good! Go read it.

No comments: