Review- The Fourth Stall by Chris Rylander

A couple of months ago, I was given a box of unreleased proofs from a library supplier to read and review before buying for our library system. I immediately picked up the book ‘ The Fourth Stall’. I loved the cover and think it will be really visually appealing to boys. In fact, the entire book would be appealing to boys– the storyline, characters, language and humour. The Fourth Stall is definitely a title I would recommend to reluctant pre-teen readers ages 9-12 years old.

So what’s it about?

Sixth graders Mac and Vince are business savvy best friends who run a successful business from their school’s east wing boy’s bathroom– fourth stall. For years, they have used their connections to help schoolmates get everything from loans to protection from bullies. They face their biggest challenge when third-grader Fred claims that he is being threatened by the legendary dropout and crime boss Staples. After hiring their bully clan and strategically planning their take down, Mac and Vince also find themselves unexpectedly affected by deeper issues like class.   

What I liked:

–          I loved the description and traits of the bully clan–each bully is known for a specific strength. For example, Snapper’s signature move ‘is a bite so hard it would snap a man clean in half if her mouth were big enough’. Rylander also includes a new form of bully that is becoming increasingly popular in our technology driven world—‘Ibully’. Ibully is a cyberbully who hacks e-mail and Facebook accounts.

–          Rylander’s writing: smart, witty. Multiple issues are thrown into the novel, but it always seems to work!

–          Rylander’s ability to make the reader emphathize with a bully even though you’ve detested the character throughout the novel. In the end, we find out why he was the way he was (and although it doesn’t excuse his behaviour, we can sort of understand why).

What I didn’t like:

–          The amount of violence in the book. Sometimes I had to remind myself that Mac is in the sixth grade. It’s like the Sopranos for the younger set, and I’m not sure the extent of the violence was necessary.

Here’s what others are saying:

“Here is an original – a story that really gets how guys are pals.  It’s also a story about sixth grade wiseguys that is funny, mysterious, and true to the heart of what really matters when you are in middle school.  Do yourself a favor.  Read it.  Now.”  – Jon Scieszka (National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature and NYT Best-Selling author of THE TRUE STORY OF THE 3 LITTLE PIGS and THE STINKY CHEESE MAN AND OTHER FAIRLY STUPID TALES)
Debut novelist Rylander mines a substantial amount of humor and heart from this combination hard-boiled crime novel and middle-grade character piece.”  – Publishers Weekly

Look for The Fourth Stall in February 2011!

Reading Trends 2010/2011

I recently came across an article by Scholastic discussing the 10 trends in children’s books from 2010. I think all librarians working with children/young adults should keep up to date on current reading trends to be able to provide exceptional reader’s advisory. I am constantly reading book blogs, journal reviews, scanning bookstore shelves, bestseller lists and of course, reading as much YA as I possibly can.  I think you will find their findings interesting and useful:

  1. The expanding Young Adult (YA) audience: More and more adults are reading YA books, as the audience for these stories expands.
  2. The year of dystopian fiction: With best-selling series like The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner, readers can’t seem to get enough of fiction that suggests the future may be worse than the present.
  3. Mythology-based fantasy: Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series set the trend – and now series like The Kane Chronicles, Lost Heroes of Olympus and Goddess Girls are capitalizing.
  4. Multimedia series: The 39 Clues, Skeleton Creek and The Search for WondLa are hooking readers with stories that go beyond the printed page and meet kids where they are online or via video.
  5. A focus on popular characters – from all media: Kids love to read books about characters they know and recognize from books, movies and television shows. Titles centered around those popular characters (like Fancy Nancy, David Shannon’s “David,” or Toy Story characters) are top sellers.
  6. The shift in picture books: Publishers are publishing about 25 to 30 percent fewer picture book titles than they used to as some parents want their kids to read more challenging books at younger ages. The new trend is leading to popular picture book characters such as Pinkalicious, Splat Cat and Brown Bear, Brown Bear showing up in Beginning Reader books.
  7. The return to humor: Given the effects of the recession on families, it is nice to see a rise in the humor category, fueled by the success of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, Dav Pilkey’s The Adventures of Ook & Gluk: Kung-Fu Cavemen from the Future, and popular media characters like Spongebob, and Phineas & Ferb.
  8. The rise of the diary and journal format: The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series is the most well-know example of this trend, but the success of Wimpy Kid is leading to popular titles such as Dear Dumb Diary, Dork Diaries, The Popularity Papers, and Big Nate.
  9. Special-needs protagonists: There is a growing body of literary fiction with main characters who have special needs, particularly Aspergers Syndrome and Autism. Examples: My Brother Charlie, Marcelo in the Real World, Mockingbird, and Rules.
  10. Paranormal romance beyond vampires: The success of titles like Shiver and Linger, Beautiful Creatures, Immortal, and Prophesy of the Sisters shows this genre is still uber-popular and continues to expand.

We can use these trends from 2010 to predict some of the future reading trends for 2011. I think 2011 will see an increased presence of angels (not the happy white angels, but the dark fallen angels). I’ve read Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick, and really want to get my hands on Halo by Alexandra Adornetto. I think dark angels is a nice change from the drawn-out vampire craze.  Do you agree with their findings, and do you have any predictions for 2011?

2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Fresher than ever.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,800 times in 2010. That’s about 4 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 33 new posts, not bad for the first year! There were 37 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 17mb. That’s about 3 pictures per month.

The busiest day of the year was July 14th with 57 views. The most popular post that day was My Favourite Library Blogs.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, mail.live.com, WordPress Dashboard, cbc.ca, and ca.linkedin.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for binky the space cat, angus thongs and perfect snogging book, books in transit, i go to seek a great perhaps, and book sculpture.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

My Favourite Library Blogs June 2010

2

About June 2010

3

Binky the Space Cat Review August 2010
1 comment

4

“I Go to Seek a Great Perhaps” September 2010
1 comment

5

Your All Time Fav. Young Adult/Teen book? August 2010
9 comments

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