Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Review of Stealing Air by Trent Reedy

Arthur A. Levine Books
Stealing Air
by Trent Reedy
o be released October 1, 2012
3 Scribbles
When sixth grade skater, Brian, moves to a small town in Iowa from big-city Seattle, he sees it as an opportunity to “start fresh.” However, it doesn’t take long for Brian to land on the radar of the class bully, Frank, and to fall for Frank’s sister, Wendy.  It seems like things couldn’t get any worse—that is until Brian’s parents can’t find an investor for their company invention, Plastisteel. Now Brian has bigger problems to face.  If Brian can’t help the company find an investor fast, Brian’s family will lose everything, and Frank will be the least of his problems.  

One of this novel’s strengths is the fact that its main characters are layered. Readers will enjoy meeting Brian, an everyday kid who struggles with everyday decisions. For instance, when class brainiac, Max, makes friends with Brian and they begin to build a flier made of plastisteel, Brian has no idea that he will be in Max’s class at school. Once faced with the decision to sit with Max at lunch, Brian wonders if being Max’s friend is worth being seen as a nerd, and he must meet cowardice head-on—not an easy thing to do at any age, let alone in the sixth grade. Frank is your typical bully but he has a sad past and a caring sister; Max is a genius with a sophisticated vocabulary but he hides a dark secret; and Alex is a successful “bookie” whose family seems rich but might not be. Readers are encouraged to look beneath the surface of the characters and to make real-world application of this lesson. Of course, in every good “guy book” there is action, and this novel is no exception. Brian and his crew face dangerous risks to create a flier that will fly like a regular airplane but with none of the safety features, and like typical guys, they jump into the dangers head first. Each trial run is fast-paced, easy to read, and makes the heart pump; and in between test runs, Brian’s confrontations with Frank amp up the tension. Reedy does a great job portraying the way young boys interact with one another, all the while keeping dialogue squeaky clean. Couple that with traditional values and multi-generational families, and this book would be at home in any library, especially in smaller communities. For guys who only care about action, this book is for you, but for books with similar stunts and lots of humor try How Angel Peterson Got His Name by Gary Paulsen or Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos.

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