"Boy, Oh, Boy, Oh, Boy," October Book Buzz Picks - The Missourian: Newspapers In Education

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"Boy, Oh, Boy, Oh, Boy," October Book Buzz Picks

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Posted: Tuesday, October 1, 2013 1:25 pm | Updated: 1:36 pm, Tue Oct 1, 2013.

“Boy, Oh, Boy, Oh, Boy,” Newsbee’s October Picks star males with mass appeal across the blackboard. All will enjoy the angst, antics and adventures of the strong characters, and the narratives they spin. Without further ado, plunge into a good read, books about boys you’re sure to enjoy, be they invisible, number-laden or waterlogged. Page On!

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He’s the student no one notices — the shy kid who does his work and doesn’t whine or joke around. Brian is “The Invisible Boy” in a sweet new book by Trudy Ludwig, with whimsical illustrations by one of Newsbee’s favorite artists, Patrice Barton.

While Nathan and Sophie require a lot of their teacher’s time and energy, Brian doesn’t. He’s quiet and studious, spending most hours alone, inside and on the playground drawing dragons, castles and superheroes to the rescue.

When a new boy named Justin comes to class, it appears Brian is going to be rescued too. Justin relishes his new friend’s artistic abilities. It seems Brian has a soul mate, someone to buffer his loneliness. But his happiness is short-lived. The bond between Brian and Justin becomes frayed when another classmate lays claim to Justin’s attention.

Heartstrings will twinge when reading this dear book, a reminder to include others, no matter how invisible they may seem.

* * * * * * * * * * *

You could never count Paul Erdős out. The Hungarian lad became a mathematician, but his youth was the sum total of trouble. “The Boy Who Loved Math, the Improbable Life of Paul Erdős,” by Deborah Heiligman, brings Erdős’ plight to light, his struggles as a square peg in a round hole.

We meet Paul as a tyke, the son of a math teacher who must return to work. The boy doesn’t like having his mama gone, so he “taught himself to count — really high,” calculating the number of days until summer vacation.

Paul may have been brilliant, but school wasn’t his forte. The boy couldn’t sit still or mind the rules, until he got to high school. There he found friends equally as in love with math.

A genius in his prime, Paul could solve equations a yard long, but ordinary duties tripped him up — doing laundry and cooking. Instead of worrying about what he couldn’t do, Paul focused on sharing his passion for numbers.

Illustrations by LeUuen Pham extend the fun learning in this clever book about a boy genius who was also a do-gooder.

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What’s not to like about a book by David Almond, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers? “The Boy Who Swam With Piranhas,” will blow you out of the water.

Stanley Potts is an English lad left in the care of his aunt and uncle. Quite by accident, his uncle gets into the fish-canning business. Suddenly Stanley is turning out cans of sardines and mackerels.

Uncle Ernie expects Stanley to slave away. This doesn’t fly with Aunt Annie. On his birthday, she sends Stanley to the fair to have fun. The boy is captivated by goldfish in bags offered as prizes in the Hook-A-Duck booth.

Stanley is worried that the goldfish will die and talks the booth manager into letting him take them home. The fish spawn an idea in his uncle’s head — he’ll can a new product sure to be solid gold.

The loss of his goldfish upsets Stanley. The boy hits the road, taking a job washing ducks in the Hook-A-Duck booth, later meeting a diver who thrills crowds by swimming in a tank with flesh-eating piranhas. Soon Stanley is a diver too.

Readers will want to fin-ish this quirky read in one sitting, and while there are plenty of giggles, there are teachable moments too, about courage, destiny and accepting loved ones. This Stanley is anything but a flat character.

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