Thursday, June 28, 2007

The One O'Clock Chop by Ralph Fletcher

I received an advanced copy of THE ONE O'CLOCK CHOP by Ralph Fletcher. If you know his novels, most are middle grade novels. Fig Pudding, Flying Solo, and Spider Boy are three that are for middle grade kids. This new one, due out in the fall, seems more appropriate for the upper end of the middle grades--early middle school, I would say.

It is a great story with characters who stay with you. I read the book about a month ago and found myself thinking about the main character, Matt, long after I finished the book.

The plot is deals with an interesting issue--two first cousins who somehow fall in love.

Fourteen-year-old Matt learns that his cousin from Hawaii is coming to spend the summer with his family (Matt and his mom). His cousin "Jazzy" is beautiful and Matt begins to fall in love with her. Matt and Jazzy both know that you can't fall in love with your cousin but they can't stop what they are feeling. The story is well done--a real issue with believable characters.

The book and the writing remind me a bit of Carl Hiaasen. It could be the setting and the big part that clam digging plays in the book--Matt spends his days on a boat with a friend of his mom's--learning about the work of clam digging and about life. But there is something about the way that the story works that reminds me of Carl Hiaasen, only better.

A little romance, a little conflict, great characters and Fletcher's great writing make this a great read for kids. It is a delicate issue--a forbidden romance-and is very well done. I think it will appeal to lots of middle school kids.

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