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Summary: For Junior Spirit, life can be summed up in a saying: “If it wasn’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all”. Junior, a 14-year-old old, had three strikes on him the day he was born. There was little to no chance that he would survive all of his medical problems. Life on the reservation was hard and bleak. Attending reservation school and being the butt of peers’ jokes, hurt. He chronicles his decision to take charge of his life in a diary filled with his cartoons. He used his artistic talent, sense of humor, and his dedication to bring meaning and joy to his life. This is a first-person account of growing up as a teenager on an Indian reservation.
Type of Reading: independent reading, read aloud book
Recommended Age: read together: 10 and up; read yourself: 12 and up
Interest Level: 10 and up
Reading Level: 7.9
Age of Child: Reviewed by students at North Junior High School, St. Cloud, MN, as part of the Use Your ABCs program.
Young Reader Reaction: I liked this book. There was a lot of humor, but this is a tear-jerker, too. I picked it because of the name and the cover. The cover looks funny and the name is great. I knew after the first chapter the book was going to be hilarious, but also sad. There wasn't much about the book that I didn't like. It had all my favorite genres.
Adult Reader Reaction: This is a well-written story that teens will connect with. Everyone who has ever been 14 will remember the bullies, zits, gross-outs and desire to be accepted.
Pros: The author and the illustrator have combined their talents to engage the reader with a believable story, interesting and funny characters and an enjoyable and memorable reading experience. The comic-strip illustrations are an effective tool for engaging reluctant and remedial readers.
Cons: Parents of pre-teen children might want to read the book prior to allowing their children to read it. This caveat pertains to graphic references to masturbation and adult language that may be offensive.
Borrow or Buy: Buy. The target audience will read this book multiple times. Student Reviewer: Borrow this book. It was really good, but I wouldn't waste my money buying it. It is a one hit wonder.
Educational Themes: This is a book meant to be enjoyed for recreational reading. Given that it is a teenager's "snapshot in time," there are are opportunities to talk about a number of themes, including bullying, self esteem, personal responsibility, and choices.
Notes: This book is a National Book Award Winner. The publisher donated a copy of this book to the Reading Tub, Inc. This is an unsolicited donation.
Literary Categories: Fiction - young adult, coming of age, multicultural, Native Americans
Date(s) Reviewed: March 2009, November 2009
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