The Last Invisible Boy by Evan Kuhlman

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I just wrote down the first title for next summer’s middle school reading list: The Last Invisible Boy by Evan Kuhlman.   I missed this one somehow – even with its starred review from School Library Journal.  I picked up a copy in a bookstore last week, started reading, and ended up walking to the check-out area while still reading.  I’ll be honest.  This is a sad book.  The back cover tells you that the book is sad and funny, and that’s true, but it’s mostly sad.  That is not to take away from the story of Finn, a twelve-year-old boy, telling the story of his life after his father dies.  Finn is sincere and funny and just an overall good kid. 

I like this book for middle school students because its ultimately a story about the importance of memories.  Kuhlman wisely lets Finn tell his own story and he even addresses the reader at times.  I like that.  It felt so immediate and made Finn more sympathetic.  In the style of Diary of  a Wimpy Kid, Finn also uses drawings to tell his story, and they really work.  The style feels age-appropriate and make the reading experience more intimate.  This book will definitely be a staple of future Inly Middle School reading lists.



Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

My computer took an unapproved four-day vacation.  It was not appreciated, but thanks to the intervention of a friend who can coax them back, I’m able to re-connect.

The forced break did give me the chance to read Catching Fire, the second book of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.  As my husband likes to say, “everything has been said, but not everyone has said it,” and that’s how I feel about both of these heart-stopping and thought provoking books.

We are thinking about teaching The Hunger Games to Inly Middle School students this year.  Many schools have added it to their reading lists and curricula.  The book brings up so many questions that are spot-on for this age, primarily this one:  How much can we raise the stakes in the quest to be entertained?  In our relentless 24-hour news and entertainment cycle, behaviors or images that may have shocked us two years ago barely register.  We want more.  If you’ve read the books, you know what I mean.

It would be interesting to pair The Hunger Games with Lois Lowry’s The Giver.  The two books would certainly lead to some interesting and sobering conversations.