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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Friday, May 31, 2013

Only 1/2 Patterson=Half as Good As It Could Be

Middle School:  The Worst Years of My Life by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts

Graphic Novel

Why do I torture myself?  Why do I read books by James Patterson AND?  I need to stop at just James Patterson!

This book is not nearly so good as Patterson's Maximum Ride Series, which I loved, but is is pretty good work.  That surprises me a little because you just never know what you're going to get with Patterson.  This one isn't great......but 1/2 of Patterson is better than no Patterson, I suppose.

The book format is very similar to the format of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, hence its popularity with middle schoolers.  However, this book has some real meat mixed in and, in that way, I liked it a bit better than the Wimpy series.  Another difference is that Rafe actually seems to learn from his mistakes.

Rafe has heard rumors about the terrible bullying in middle school so he comes up with a plan.  Make a reputation so bad that no one will mess with him.  How does he do that?  By trying to break EVERY single rule in the school handbook.  No easy task.  I'm a teacher and those things have hundreds of rules in them.

To make it a little more interesting, Rafe turns the whole process into a video game and assigns each rule a set number of points.  Rafe is able to survive school and home drama for two reasons:  his drawing and his best friend, super-silent Leo.  Rafe is such a likable character that you kind of want him to win the game, even though you know it will be a disaster.  And, when you finally look behind his bluff, you can see how tragic he really is.  There is a huge surprise that I didn't see coming which made me want to go back and re-read the story again and look for clues.

I cannot keep this book on my shelf at school!  The boys love it! Perhaps it is a book only for adolescents? This is the first one in the continuing series and you should read them in order.  They are not nearly as funny as the Wimpy series but the graphics are much more intricate.  What could be in a sequel?  Well, Rafe didn't break all the school rules but the question is.....did he learn enough lessons to stop his crazy plan?  Probably not!

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