Thursday, April 21, 2011

Librarian's Pick of the Week: Bucking the Sarge

Title: Bucking the Sarge
Author: Christopher Paul Curtis
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Published: 2004
Age: 10+

Author Christopher Paul Curtis was born in Flint, Michigan and spent thirteen years on an assembly line hanging car doors. His story The Watsons Go to Birmingham received a Newbery Honor and a Coretta Scott King Honor, and Bud, Not Buddy became the first novel to win both of these awards.

Synopsis: "Luther T. Farrell has got to get out of Flint, Michigan. As his best friend Sparky says, “Flint’s nothing but the Titanic.” And his mother, a.k.a. the Sarge, says, “Take my advice and stay off the sucker path.” The Sarge milked the system to build an empire of slum housing and group homes. Luther’s just one of the many people trapped in the Sarge’s Evil Empire—but he’s about to bust out. If Luther wins the science fair this year, he’ll be on track for college and a future as America’s best-known and best-loved philosopher. All he’s got to do is beat his arch rival Shayla Patrick, the beautiful daughter of Flint’s finest undertaker—and the love of Luther’s life. Sparky’s escape plans involve a pit bull named Poofy and the world’s scariest rat. Oh, and Luther. Add to the mix Chester X., Luther’s mysterious roommate; Dontay Gaddy, a lawyer whose phone number is 1-800-SUE’M ALL; and Darnell Dixon, the Sarge’s go-to guy who knows how to break all the rules. Bucking the Sargeis a story that only Christopher Paul Curtis could tell. Once again the Newbery Award–winning author of Bud, Not Buddy and The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963 gives us a whole new angle on life and a world full of unforgettable and hilarious characters. Readers will root for Luther and Sparky every step of the way."

Review: "Luther T. Farrell is not like most other 15-year-olds living in Flint, Michigan. While he's working hard to win the school science fair for the third year, he is also in charge of one of his mother's group homes and that includes driving the men to rehab and cleaning them up after bathroom accidents. Luther and his mom, a.k.a. Sarge, are financially well off because she's also a slumlord and a loan shark, but the eighth grader is uncomfortable with his life. Christopher Paul Curtis's novel recounts how this often philosophical youth decides to do what's right and turns the tables on his mother. Luther's best friend Sparky, Shayala his heart's desire, and a wise elderly resident of the group home add humor, wisdom, and a bit of romance to this story that mixes comedy and questions about morality. Michael Boatman's narration has the breezy bounce of inner-city youth, but he also captures the serious undertone of the story. The sound quality is good, and a bit of music adds a hip beat to the opening and closing of the recording. There are a few wacky subplots and some funky characters, but both urban and suburban listeners will connect with the teen appropriate dialogue and admire the way Luther emerges victorious after making tough choices." - Library Journal

If you're intrigued, don't forget to check our library's catalog for this book!


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