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North by Donna Jo Napoli
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10/07 Lively and believably written- a kid makes it so far North from Washington DC, evading being caught and sent back home for months, while he learns all he needs to know. I would have liked a little more at the end, since his mom being so protective of him and limiting his activity was such a part of the story. ( )
  thukpa | Feb 6, 2016 |
10/07 Lively and believably written- a kid makes it so far North from Washington DC, evading being caught and sent back home for months, while he learns all he needs to know. I would have liked a little more at the end, since his mom being so protective of him and limiting his activity was such a part of the story. ( )
  thukpa | Feb 6, 2016 |
10/07 Lively and believably written- a kid makes it so far North from Washington DC, evading being caught and sent back home for months, while he learns all he needs to know. I would have liked a little more at the end, since his mom being so protective of him and limiting his activity was such a part of the story. ( )
  thukpa | Feb 5, 2016 |
Twelve year old Alvin loves learning everything he can about Arctic explorer Matthew Henson. When his teacher assigns a project for Black History Month, Alvin chooses to report on his hero.
Living with his mother and grandmother, Alvin looks up to Uncle Pete who teaches him to ride a bike and promises to take him on a bike trip in the summer. Alvin's mother worries about him constantly. She won't let him buy a mountain bike with his savings because it would be too dangerous to ride in the city. She treats him like a baby who needs to be watched and is too overprotective. He finally decides he's had enough and makes plans to go north and follow in the footsteps of his hero to find out as much as he can for his report. He uses his savings and makes the trek north on the train. What he finds is that no amount of planning would make this an easy trip. In the face of many obstacles, he matures and realizes what he left behind. At the same time, he learns some life lessons in trust, patience and appreciation of family. I liked this story, but found it hard to believe a twelve year old could successfully make this journey on his own. Middle school boys 10-13 will like this story for its adventure and the determination of Alvin.
  ranaemathias | Oct 16, 2010 |
Personal Response:

I thought that this story started out really well. However, I felt like it kind of slowed down in the middle of the book, and then seemed to drag on. I was really disappointed by the ending of this book as well. The resolution of the story was what kept me going with it, and then it just ended without answering any of the questions I wanted to hear the answers to! Some of the events of this story are very far-fetched. I didn't feel like it modeled healthy ways of dealing with family problems. I also think that Native Americans were not portrayed in the most politically correct way. Sometimes their language was made out to be quite primitive.

School/Library Uses:

I definitely have my reservations about this book. I don't think it would be high on my list to purchase for my library. However, it is a bit of a fascinating story for kids who like adventure stories. I think this would be a good book to reccommend to boys who are reluctant readers in a school or public library setting (and if you could foster some discussions with this book, that would be ideal). ( )
  NMkimdykstra | Jul 19, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060579870, Hardcover)

Chanelle laughed. "You'd never have the guts to get near a polar bear in real life. And you'd never travel that far. You the mamma's boy, I hear."

But Chanelle is wrong. Alvin has more guts than even he realizes. And he isn't a mamma's boy. In fact, when his over protective mother goes too far, he leaves home.

Where can Alvin go, though?

He heads north. He will follow in the footsteps of his hero -- Matthew Henson, the bold Arctic explorer. Alvin will prove that he can take care of himself. Alvin will go north to the deadly cold; north to terrifying, frozen windy expanses, where it's easy to get lost even near shelter; north to polar bears and wolves; north to himself. . . .

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:02:28 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Tired of his mother's overprotectiveness and intrigued by the life of African American explorer Matthew Henson, twelve-year-old Alvin travels north and spends a season with a trapper near the Arctic Circle.

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