This Polynesian adventure tale follows a young boy named Mafatu on a coming of age journey. Filled with fear of the sea, Mafatu is shunned by the people of his village and endures the disappointment of his father, the chief. Mafatu's shame drives him from his home and out onto the ocean to face this element that almost claimed his life once before. Having only his faithful dog and an albatross friend, Mafatu has to rely on his knowledge and skill to survive his ocean journey and the deserted island he lands on.
Through his time on the island Mafatu begins to find the courage that has been shadowed by tragedy. He also finds the island may not be as deserted as he thinks. Filled with dangers from sharks, giant clams, and cannibals, it becomes a life or death race for Mafatu to use his new found courage to escape and return home to his people.
Call It Courage is an adventure tale that is as good as they come!
Although he is probably better known for his award winning book, Holes, I will always have a soft spot for There's a Boy in the Girls' Bathroom.
Bradley Chalkers is a grade school bully whom all the kids avoid. His parents are at their wits end with him and find it easier not to deal with him. The only friends Bradley has or wants are his collection of little animals that he brings to life with his imagination. Things start to change with the arrival of a new student and a school counselor, and Bradley begins to realize being alone isn't really what he wants after all.This book draws you in from the very first line and holds you with a balance of humor and poignancy as you follow Bradley through his journey. There is a realistic quality in the characters and situations that makes you sympathize and root for Bradley. My little blurb here cannot begin to describe the many facets of what makes this book wonderful and how it has become one of my all time favorites.
This is a touching and humorous tale about love and families and dealing with change that will stick with readers for a long time. I took a page from this author when incorporating flashbacks in my own book, Entangled.
Sid Fleischman wrote many wonderful award-winning books during his lifetime. Check out his 9 Tips For Writers for some good basic reminders of what we should always be aiming for as writers no matter what the genre. I have highlighted two of my favorites in this post.
By the Great Horn Spoon is a terrific historical fiction novel about a young boy and the family butler taking off from Boston to the gold fields of California during the gold rush era. It is a fast paced adventure story that follows the route and challenges many faced when traveling from the east coast to California to make their dreams come true of striking it rich. Action, adventure, colorful settings, and humor fill every page.
As a writer and reader, I love character driven stories and this story is packed with a colorful cast. Names such as Cut-Eye Higgins, Mountain Jim, Quartz Jackson, and Azariah Jones, let you know you are on an adventure far away from the place you are at. The relationship between the boy, Jack, and Praiseworthy, the butler, is especially fun to follow. With the formal conventions of Boston slipping further away, Praiseworthy and Jack find themselves redefining who they are as their friendship grows. This is a really great read that will put a smile on your face.
The Whipping Boy is the epitome of good things come in small packages. This story has the reader following the adventure of a young prince, commonly known as Prince Brat, who runs away with his whipping boy. Readers will quickly attach themselves to Jemmy, the plucky street-wise orphan who has been forced into service as the haughty prince's personal whipping boy. It is the character transformation of the prince that is what drives this story. The readers, along with Jemmy, learn there is more to this prince than what is on the surface.
The villains, Hold-Your-Nose-Billy and Cutwater, are a great combination of dangerous and dim-witted and keep you rooting for the boys as they try and stay one step ahead of the pair. The story is packed full of colorful similies and metaphores and I would frequently use this novel to teach these literary devices to my students. It was certainly more fun than any grammar book.
This story made an impact on me in the set-up of two boys who, at the beginning of the story, hate each other and through this adventure become best friends. It was definitely an inspiration for my fantasy serial novel that is in the works.