Monday, June 26, 2017

Reading Without Walls

Revenge of the Green Banana
by Jim Murphy
Clarion Books, 2017
review copy provided by the publisher

The Reading Without Walls challenge gets you out of your reading comfort zones and introduces you to new characters, settings, genres, or formats.

A funny story set in a Catholic school in the late 1950's that features a group of 6th grade boys (and one wacko second grader) plotting a revenge of reciprocal humiliation on Sister Angelica, their teacher, is definitely not my bailiwick. I described some of the details and read aloud a couple of scenes to the resident Catholic School Lifer, and he thought it all rang very true (and was very funny). Would a reader without such a resource buy into the Catholic School setting? Are the references to the 1950s/1960s strong enough to give a clear sense of "historical" fiction? Perhaps, perhaps not, but any reader who wants to enjoy a funny story about an underdog who tries to get revenge, but who stumbles on his own foibles at every turn, will enjoy this book.

Jimmy is a troublemaker who has a reputation (and a big fat red folder of his misdeeds) preceding him. He wants to change this year, but there's no way to get a fresh start with a reputation like his. It definitely seems like Sister Angelica has it out for him, but with 62 in the class, I have just a bit of empathy for her. To survive the odds of 1:62, being a little bit proactive with the behaviors seems like a plan. In contrast to her apparent targeting of Jimmy in class, the scene where Jimmy teaches Sister Angelica to shoot a basketball lets her humanity and personality shine out, which is why I'm cutting her a bit of a break, although not enough to add her to our list of 100 Cool Teachers of Children's Literature!


  1. Sounds like a fun book. Have you seen the Reading Without Walls Bingo! It's offered by LOC and others. Here's the link:

  2. Love it! Thanks for the heads up!

  3. I'm enjoying your Reading Without Walls posts. My husband is now reading Forever or a Long, Long, Time.
    Thanks for the suggestions! I'll need to check out The Revenge of the Green Banana to see how it comapres to my experiences in Catholic School. Sister Angelica sounds like Sister Bernadine at my school. Now I'm off to check out the link that Ramona left for you. :)


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