Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Author: Barbara Park
Genre: Fiction (chapter book)
Skinnybones” has two main characters, Alex Frankovitch and T.J. Stoner. Alex Frankovitch is a fifth-grade student who is very short and skinny for his age. T.J. Stoner is also a fifth-grade student, but he is much taller and stronger than Alex is and is considered the best little league pitcher in the whole town. Alex and T.J. do not get along very well because T.J. brags a lot and bullies Alex. However, one thing the two of them do have in common is the fact that they both play little league baseball. In the story, Alex has a big mouth that often gets him in trouble. One day Alex brags and claims that he is an excellent pitcher and is able to throw a curve ball. T.J. overhears him bragging and challenges Alex to a pitching contest. Needless to say, Alex found himself in a predicament he could not get himself out of. During the contest, both T.J. and Alex pitch ten balls. T.J’s ten pitches were all perfect strikes. Alex’s however, barely hit the plate. Alex was embarrassed, but what made things worse was that the following weekend Alex and T.J’s team’s were competing against one another in a little league game. Unfortunately for Alex, T.J. decided to make an announcement to everyone in the class about coming out to watch the game. During the morning of the game, Alex tried to act like he was sick, but his parents did not believe him. Once Alex showed up at the game he saw a bunch of people in the stands as well as a cameraman. The cameraman was there to watch and record T.J, because if his team won this game, it would be 125 wins in a row for him, which is a new Guinness World Record. During the game, T.J. struck out person after person, but Alex was determined to get on base. Alex bunted the ball and it went short of first base. Alex started running as fast as he could, however, he saw one of the player’s toss the ball to T.J. who was covering first base. In order to distract him, Alex shouted “booga, booga” and successfully got on base, but the umpire declared him out because he believed Alex interfered with the play. T.J’s team ended up winning the game and T.J. became a hero. The first day back to school was horrible for Alex because everyone came up to him and kept saying “booga, booga.” Alex was very embarrassed, but the next thing he knew, he heard his name on the announcements. Alex was congratulated for winning the Kitty Fritters essay contest he had entered as a joke at the beginning of the novel. He was going to be on National television on a Kitty Fritter commercial. Finally, something had gone right for Alex Frankovitch.
“Skinnybones” is a very humorous and entertaining book. Barbara Park is able to keep the reader fully engaged and interested in the story. This book could be used in a variety of ways. It could be used as a read-aloud, with a follow-up discussion about bullying, friendships, or perseverance. It could also be a good book to use during Guided Reading because the chapters are fairly short, the text gives an ample amount of opportunities to orchestrate discussion, and there are some challenging vocabulary words that could be taught while reading the text.