Monday, July 19, 2010

Guys Read book club: summer '10, session 1, Sceptre of the Ancients (Skulduggery Pleasant series, book 1)

Well, it's the day before my next session of the Guys Read book club, which means it's the perfect time to discuss the previous session of the Guys Read book club, from way back in June! Remember, kids: it's not procrastination if you can make up a good excuse for why it's late.

The book this time was the first in the Skulduggery Pleasant series, Scepter of the Ancients. This was recommended to me by my good friend and fellow library science student Carla as a good, post-Harry-Potter novel for young boys, and she was right on the money. I read only the first twenty pages before I realized that this was, indeed, a 'keeper': a young girl, spunky and intelligent, gets involved with the magical underworld by way of her uncle's untimely death and the eponymous skeletal detective, Mr. Pleasant himself. It was sharp, it had memorable characters, it was well-written; I dug it enormously. It was very clearly written in the wake of Harry Potter and the Buckets of Money, but it had an edge of danger and malice that the Potter books lacked, and overall could be very favorably compared to that series.

Which was, actually, my big mistake. We were having a decent conversation about the books, the five or six guys and me, and then I brought up Harry Potter. I was hoping I would get them talking about the big differences between the two worlds and the two systems of magic and so forth, but unfortunately it derailed the club a little: some of the guys got sidetracked onto what they liked about Harry Potter, some others started talking about the differences between the movies and the books, and in all it got a little muddled. We never went completely off the rails, and to be honest, I like a little chaos in my book talks, but overall I think we could've avoided the big HP just fine.

Last year's group was fairly coherent, in the sense that all the guys seemed to be at about the same level as readers. This year, unfortunately, it was painfully obvious that there is a very big gap between fourth grade and sixth: I had a couple boys who got easily sidetracked onto things like wands and guns (and combinations thereof) and others who really just wanted to talk about the book. I kept it together pretty well, I think, but it was tough.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to tomorrow's book club, wherein I blow the dust off of Gary Paulsen's classic Hatchet—which was ancient when I was these guys' age(s). We'll get to talk about chopping down trees and eating raw turtles' eggs and stuff. It'll be a blast.

1 comment:

  1. aww're a librarian! It gives me warm fuzzies. And good on you for taking on the boys' book club. That is adventurous...