Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Reading Challenge! Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins

My contest for a signed copy of From Dead To Worse by Charlaine Harris is supposed to end tomorrow. I need 3 more entries to reach 10. If, I do not have 10 by that time, I will extend the contest a few more days. I really want to give away this book! And, well, I'm so darn proud of myself for keeping up my end of the blogging deal!

Before I start today's blog post, I want to explain how the book I'm getting ready to talk about and my son, Bear, has given me the idea for a Summer Reading Challenge. You see, my son aka Bear, is dyslexic. After a long, drawn out battle with the school district last year that netted us zero results, we took it into our own hands and had him tested. When the results came back that yes, he was dyslexic, we hired a private tutor and worked endlessly with our boy. You see, he's always loved a good story. LOVED to have books read to him. He could read sight words well, but put a sentence in front of him and he was lost. Add to that a teacher with no sympathy and we had a nearly broken boy by the end of school.

Thankfully though, there are such great authors out there. Authors like R.L. LaFevers and her Lowther Blade Trilogy. Authors like Jodi Lynn Anderson and her May Bird books. And authors like the one of this book, Suzanne Collins, that fanned the tiny spark that was once Bears love of books and turned it into an inferno. There is something about a good book that reaches deep into a child's imagination and reaches them like nothing else can. And it is in the spirit of these great authors and their work, and in celebration of the last day of school today that I'm instituting a Summer Reading Challenge. Read through to the end of the blog post for details. There will be a prize. And so I can get to the Challenge details, let me get to the blog...

Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins

When eleven-year-old Gregor follows his little sister through a grate in the laundry room of their New Your apartment building, he hurtles into the dark Underland beneath the city. There, humans live uneasily beside giant spiders, bats, cockroaches, and rates - but the fragile peace is about to fall apart.

Gregor wants no part of a conflict between these creepy creatures. He just wants to find his way home. But when he discovers that a strange prophecy foretells a role for him in the Underland's uncertain future, he realizes it might be the only way to solve the biggest mystery of his life. Little does he know his quest will change him - and the Underland - forever.

Gregor lives with his mom, grandmother, and two sisters in a small apartment in New York City. A little over two years prior, Gregor's father, a science teacher mysteriously disappers. Gregor, at the tender age of 11 has found himself with a lot of responsibility, and handles it with such amazing strength.

One day, after his mother goes into work, Gregor takes his 2 year old sister Boots with him to the laundry room to do the family wash, and he and Boots end up falling down, down, down through a vent.

What they find there is terrifying. Giant cockroaches. Fortunately for Gregor and Boots, the roaches take a liking to Boots and take them to the city of Regalia where Gregor meets pale-haired, violet eyed humans who ride giant, talking bats. But not just any people, he meets Royalty. Luxa is also 11, but is the queen of Regalia since her parents were killed by the rats - we're talking giant talking rats here. And these humans seem to think that Gregor is some kind of warrior sent to fulfill the Prophecy of Gray.

You see, these humans are down below the City because of a man named Barthlolomew of Sandwich, and Sandwich had visions he would write down, that are now the prophecies to which the Underland await.

But Gregor doesn't want to be a warrior, he just wants to go home. But no matter how bad he wants that, he wants what may lie at the end of the prophecy, so he sets off with a group of Underlanders to fulfill the Prophecy.

Gregor the Overlander is one fantastic thrill ride for readers of any age. I have re-typed about twenty synopsis' of the book by this point in the post, and no matter how hard I try I simply cannot do the book justice. The suspense is fabulous for young readers and had this adult glued to the pages as well.

About three weeks ago, the school had it's spring Book Fair. As you can imagine, this event is huge in our home. The kids get to go every day and buy a book or two on their own, and I take them twice to buy books with them. We heart books here. But this book, this book was one Bear picked out all on his own on the recommendation of the school librarian. The night he brought it home, he sat down with The Hubs and they started reading. They read up to Chapter 6. They were so hooked. The only reason they stopped there was because it was bedtime. The next night, they read to Chapter 13. It was that night that The Hubs asked me to catch up to them the next day while he was at work and then we could take turns reading (his throat was starting to get sore by the time they quit each night). There was only one condition - I could, under no circumstances, read past them. I had to stop until he got home from work and then we could start up as a family.

Well, I started the book, read the 13 chapters and cursed the condition. I didn't want to stop! I wanted to keep going. Gregor was such an amazing kid. The Underland was such an intriguing place, and I couldn't wait to find out what was going to happen next! But I was a good girl and waited until The Hubs got home, and then we sat down as a family and read the rest of the book in one sitting. And after those 14 chapters, we couldn't wait to delve back into the Underland. Unfortunately, we have no bookstore in town, and the closest one was out of stock. So we ordered it. It arrived three days later and we finished it in less than three days. We are now on book 3 and already have the last two books on the shelves waiting for us to read. What a wonderful treat for summer!

And so, it is because of our love of these books. The love of these books our son has and the love of reading they have continued to inspire in him that The Hubs and I are going to donate, at the end of summer $35 to the school library or children's organization of my Summer Reading Challenge winner's choice. Not only that, but we will also give the winner a $15 gift certificate to the on-line book retailer of their choice.

So, to participate in the challenge, come back tomorrow for the details (and a bit of talk about Book 2 of this series) we are continuing to iron out. Who knows, maybe we'll get enough interest and the prize package will grow!

Take Care


wildchild said...

I know what you are going through. My daughter is also dyslexic. I had to contact the school board in Jefferson City to get the school to test my daughter. They did b/c I was told that it was against the law for the school not to test my child when a parent request it. Unfortunately by the fifth grade my daughter still could not read so I sent her to another school and she can read just as well as I can. She has come along way. Some schools just do not care.

ChariDee said...

wildchild - I am so glad that you were able to get your daughter tested! I know what a pain it is, dealing with the powers that be in the school system, and I'm so glad that you were able to come out with the testing being done.

Isn't it amazing how good it feels watching these kids who have struggled so much, become avid readers? To know the fights with the schools and everyone else was worth it, because we got them the help they needed and now they are READERS!

wildchild said...

I agree. It just upsets me to know that the schools are their with the ability to help your child and you have to fight to get it for them.