Double Dutch

cover image for Double DutchChamber, V.  (2002)  Double Dutch: A Celebration of Jump Rope, Rhyme, and Sisterhood.  New York, NY: Hyperion Books for Children.

 

Review:

 

I so very much wanted to love this book, but it felt unfocused and unorganized enough that I’m having a hard time figuring out how to describe it in a way that manages to be more enlightening than its title.  There are some great parts – such as the interviews with competitive double dutch teams, the history of double dutch, and the excerpt from Mama’s Girl – and I still think many tweens would enjoy it. I just feel like it could have been so much more.  Most especially, it felt like it couldn’t decide if it wanted to be a gift book for former girls or a non-fiction book for actual girls.  Instead, it tried to both and was a weaker book overall for having done so, as much of the text would interest adults far more than tweens, and yet the reading level was geared for tweens.  It’s a respectable book, it just doesn’t quite feel worthy of the awesomeness of its topic.

 

Best for ages 8-12

 

Author website: http://www.veronicachambers.com/

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Exploring Caves: Journey into the Earth

cover image for Exploring CavesAulenbach, N. H., Barton, H. A., & Delano, M. F. (2001) Exploring Caves.  Washington, DC: National Geographic Society

 

Review:

 

Cavers Nancy Holler Aulenbach and Hazel A. Barton invite readers (and a film crew) along with them as they research some of the most fascinating caves on earth.  The first place they visit is Greenland, to see inside the unstable and everchanging ice caves hidden with cracks in the vast glaciers that cover much of the country.  By the end of the journey, readers have also seen glimpses of underwater caves in Mexico, a cave that can only be reached by climbing down the side of the Grand Canyon, and caves filled with bats.

 

This book is more properly an elementary school book than a middle school title.  However, it is a great title to have around for reluctant tween readers of all ages.  The intriguing subject matter and the slim number of pages make it a book that might be picked up by tweens that would skip more mundane subjects or more daunting texts.  Also, the narrative style will encourage readers to connect with the authors find the already dramatic topic to be even more intense while the detailed and bright photographs will keep the readers turning pages.

Best for ages 7-12

 

Film Website: http://www.macgillivrayfreemanfilms.com/site/our-films/film-library/journey-into-amazing-caves.html

 

Author Websites:

 

http://www.nancy4caves.net/

 

http://www.cavescience.com

 

http://www.marfebooks.com/

Zeke and Luther

image for Zeke and LutherBunje, D. & Stanton, N. (Writer), & Putch, J. (Director).  (2010).  Robo-Luth [Television series episode].  In Dearborn, M. & Burkhard, T. (Producer), Zeke and Luther.  Burbank, CA: Disney XD Original Productions.

Review:

[Once again, one can tell that a show about teens is meant to be watched by tweens instead by it’s notable lack of sarcasm.]

Zeke Falcone and Luther Waffles are best friends whose primary goal in life is to become the best skaters ever.  This particular episode revolved around Luther first getting injured during a failed attempt at a daring trick, and then later surpassing everyone’s (including Zeke’s) records via the extra power he gets from the microchip the doctor implanted in order to fix his injured knee.  The knee, of course, eventually goes crazy and must be brought back to normal.  A side plot involved Zeke driving his germ phobic little sister crazy by claiming to have sneezed in an undisclosed location in her room.

 

So, clearly, not the most realistic of shows.  It is, in fact, full of quite a bit of stupid.  However, with the exception of the fact that once again it is the third wheel, Kojo, that is black while both of the title characters are white, it’s mostly harmless stupid.   Zeke and Luther’s exploits are generally too outrageous and unbelievable for any one old enough to enjoy the show to consider trying to emulate them much, and while they spend most of their time loafing around, it’s clearly meant to portray how tween boys would like to spend their time and not how teen boys are expected to spend their time. It’s bit too ridiculous and over the top for me to find it enjoyable personally, but I’m not overly surprised to find that it is one of the higher rated shows among tween boys.

Best for ages 8-12

Official Website: http://disney.go.com/xd/zekeandluther/