A Book A Week #9

9. Operation Yes by Sara Lewis Holmes

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.

Philo of Alexandria

I added this title to my Amazon cart rather impulsively after reading about it on many blogs- some bloggers thought it was one of the best YA books of 2009.

Like most good literature, this book is about many things all at once.  The main character, Bo, is starting Grade 6 having been in many schools as an army brat.  He has a teacher unlike any other- she’s  ready to challenge her students’ thinking and push the boundaries using improvisational theater.  Bo’s cousin has to move in with his family when her mother gets deployed in Iraq.  And then, tragedy strikes- forcing Bo and his classmates to act and learn all the good things we expect characters to learn in good stories.

There is an excellent teacher’s guide.  Because the book has a focus on using improv, the teacher’s guide included many exercises you could use with a class or a book group while reading this book.

It turns out that one of my favorite parts of this reading a book a week resolution is learning a bit about the author either before or after I read their work.  Recently published books/authors like Operation Yes tend to have a larger web presence.

Sara’s blog is fantastic- very candid and includes some incredible poetry.  There is also a really good interview at one of my favorite blogs:  Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. The bloggers at 7 Imp. always go into great depth with their reviews and interviews.  I find learning about the author adds a richness to reading and reflecting on their work.

Reading Challenges and Teaching Opportunities:

Background Knowledge: The book is set on an Air Force Base, so there are many references to the military.  All the main characters are involved with the military in one way or another. 

Character Development: This is a good book for comparing and contrasting 2 characters in the same book, as there are 2 main characters (Bo and Gari) that both go through a straight forward before/after character change.

Plot Structure: The plot structure is standard, in that it follows their stories in sequential order.  However, the story jumps from character to character at each chapter, until all the plot lines come together somewhere in the middle of the story. 

Theme: Team work, taking chances, being adaptable, thinking of others, setting goals, etc…

The quote at the top of this entry (you’re still reading?!  Wow.) is central to the book and I have thought of it often on this first day back to work.  It’s a good reminder as we head into the inevitably stressful time where DRA’s and conference preparation collide.

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