Rainer Maria Rilke

"Live a while in these books, learn from them what seems to you worth learning, but above all love them. This love will be repaid you a thousand and a thousand times, and however your life may turn,-it will, I am certain of it, run through the fabric of your growth as one of the most important threads among all the threads of your experiences, disappointments, and joys."--Rainer Maia Rilke

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Saturday, April 20, 2013

Definitely for the Bathroom--Right in the Toilet!

The Fourth Stall by Chris Rylander

Adolescent Humor

I have read a lot of 'bad' books in my day, ones full of vulgar language and vulgar acts, but this book, by far, is the most morally bankrupt book I've ever read that is targeted especially for young people.

This book left me with such a bad taste in my mouth.  Nothing in it is remotely funny, unless you're the kind of person who gets a real belly laugh from school violence, crippling bullying and kids' lives ruined by malicious gossip.  It is so mean-spirited and has such a demeaning tone.

The plot involves two sixth-graders, Mac and Vince, who run an extortion ring out of the fourth stall of the school bathroom.  Basically, they bribe, coerce, and humiliate their victims (everyone else in school) for money because they are saving to go to a baseball game.  When their usual methods don't work, they hire big kids to beat up the small kids.  Beat them up really badly--jumping them from behind school buildings, bad enough to send to the school nurse.

I am stunned that Scholastic would put their brand on this.  It is such a glorification of school violence and being a bully.  It has a sick, twisted message and I am embarrassed to own the book.  Most certainly it will never be on the shelf in my classroom.

It is so inappropriate in other ways as well-drug references, cursing, domestic violence, lying, swindling parents, theft, elementary age kids smoking.  This is NOT a Godfather for the younger set; this is just a Godfather-in-training.  What parent would be okay with their kids emulating it or reading it?   I hope none of my students do.  I shudder to think what the book might teach them.

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