Friday, September 26, 2008

Dan Gutman

Have you ever felt this way? You find a GREAT book. Your son loves it so you go out and find other books by the same author but the next one read is a big flop? It just doesn't live up to the "WOW" that you expected. That has happened so often with me and my quest to find great books for reluctant readers.

Dan Gutman is my favorite author who consistently writes great books for boys. He has books for all ages and stages of reading.

Last year our independent reading group read his Weird School Series. I would say they are about the reading level of a Magic Tree House. My kids never did get into Magic Tree House- I bought the box set and everything- because so many people told me it was such a great series. But my sons were not captivated by a boy who goes on adventures with is younger sister- cool tree house or not. Weird School is just plain funny. Total boy humor and it does sneak some learning- on the sly. That's why I love Dan Gutman. (as an author- I'm married- please!) :0)

His next level of books is The Million Dollar series; Million Dollar Strike, Million Dollar Shot, Million Dollar Put, Million Dollar Goal. Hunter's book club is currently reading the Million Dollar Shot.

I just finished the Million Dollar Strike. I try to read all the books before I assign them for book club. And my verdict is....we are not going to read it as a group. It was funny- I mean- at one point I was literally laughing out loud... at hockey practice.... other parents thought I was insane. (First- I'm not the Hockey mom who roots and cheers from the sidelines at each and every practice.. Rushing to the bench for water breaks, etc... I'm the mom, with a book in her hands...(boys book) walking behind my two year old as he scoots around on his scooter. So I get sideways glances from some of the "hard core" hockey moms. Every once in a while- when Heath is distracted by freshly stuck gum to the bottom of his foot or a trail of ants... and I know he'll be still for a few minutes, I'll pause and watch what is going on in practice.) But for the most part I have to stay with Heath. Whenever I think he's satisfied at staying in the rink- get comfortable to watch practice- that's when he takes off. So I've resigned myself to being his shadow- but I have to read to keep from going bonkers for THREE hours at practice.)

ANYWAY- back to the book. The only reason I don't recommend it for our group is Hunter is pretty sensitive to scary things. Anything actually scary or implied. In the Million Dollar Strike there is a character who is obsessed with gory horror movies and quotes scenes from them.

It's basically about two friends who love bowling and try to save their favorite bowling alley from being condemned. They convince the slightly-mentally unstable owner to invest some money into the place and even sponsor a Million Dollar Strike contest to help rejuvenate business. Things look bright for Bowl-a-Rama when someone starts making threats to put the bowling alley out of business forever.
I started laughing when the boys were trying to save the alley at the town meeting. Their defense of the bowling alley... you'll have to read it.

I was so looking forward to taking the boys bowling for book club!
You read it- and see if it is right for your boys.


max said...


I grew up as a reluctant reader. Now I write action-adventures & mysteries, especially for boys 8 and up, that kids hate to put down. My web site is at and my Books for Boys blog is at I also have a short story in a new book called LAY UPS and LONG SHOTS, published by Darby Creek Publishing. I'm also featured in an article in the 2009 edition of Children's Wrtier Guide.

My other books are all ranked by Accelerated Reader

Max Elliot Anderson

The Crash Test Dummy said...

ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

Sorry Laura. Not laughing at you. Just laughing at Max. DUDE! Does he not pay attention to who he has already left that pre-fabbed comment to? I mean, DUUUUDDDDE! Can he just let Dan Gutman shine for a sec or too without butting in with his shameless promotions of himself.

ha ha ha ha ha

If he only knew how many times we've snickered about this.

Okay, you better erase this comment.

ha ha ha ha ha ha

At least he didn't say, Dear Dan, or Dear Franny. ;)

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