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The Librariest

I'm an elementary librarian in need of justifying the amount of books I reads aimed at eleven year-olds by organizing them on a nifty website.

Currently reading

The Hoboken Chicken Emergency
Daniel Pinkwater, Jill Pinkwater
Dinosaur Trouble
Dick King-Smith, Nick Bruel
Justin Case: School, Drool, and Other Daily Disasters
Rachel Vail, Matthew Cordell
The Coming of the Dragon
Rebecca Barnhouse
The Boxcar Children Beginning: The Aldens of Fair Meadow Farm
Patricia MacLachlan
Les Miserables: Complete and Unabridged

Knots in My Yo-yo String: The Autobiography of a Kid

Knots in My Yo-Yo String - Jerry Spinelli Every year I have a class, or few, wander in with the assignment of reading a biography. We have a pretty nifty selection in the 921s here in my school, if I do say so myself, but a good many of the choices fall in the picture book variety. The teacher in an effort to raise the bar for her students will usually demand the chosen book have a mandatory number of pages, usually 100. It is still no problem to fill the bill when it comes to matching books of this description at least 2 to 1 against the students at hand. The issue is finding choices that will excite the readers. Sometime ago I realized that authors of children’s books tend to write by far the most enticing autobiographies. Bill Peet: an Autobiography, How Angel Peterson Got his Wings by Gary Paulsen, and Boy: Tales of a Childhood by Roald Dahl have always been sure fire hits in my arsenal. Not to mention the definitive King of all Kid-Lit autobiographers, the Honorable Jon Scieszka, with Knucklehead. Jerry Spinelli’s Knots in My Yo-yo String, arms me with yet one more weapon for the collection.Knots in My Yo-yo String is a loose collection of essays about the big and small events of Spinelli’s all-American, mid-twentieth century childhood in Norristown Pennsylvania. He regales his readers with his desire to become a cowboy, his prowess as an athlete, and tours us around his west end neighborhood. Readers familiar with his bibliography will be hit with glancing bouts of Déjà vu, has they read of his neighbor’s mother who whistled her six children home to dinner, or about baseball games played in a vacant lot close to a creek, or as he runs down the rails of the train tracks. When he describes the alley network of his neighborhood it is easy to flash on Loser Daniel Zinkoff running with misguided determination through them on a winter’s night. While many readers check out Knucklehead voluntarily for its outrageous content, I don’t see this happening with Spinelli’s offering. There are many moments tucked in Knots in my Yo-yo String that will elicit a smile, and perhaps a chuckle or two. It is far from the guffawfest of Knucklehead. Knots is far more nostalgic and thoughtful. In fact, like many of Richard Peck’s books, it may have more appeal to the generation depicted, than for young readers. I’ve yet to run across a tween who is ready to wallow in nostalgia. It would be a great match for an aspiring writer, especially if she were familiar with the author’s books. And as for those mandatory biography readers, it is a much more painless choice than 100+ pages on Ferdinand Magellan.