Can You Spell Revolution?

Can You Spell Revolution?Can You Spell Revolution?

I have a brother who is 16 years younger than me and ever since he was little I’ve always bought him books hoping he’d develop a love for reading.

He’s 12 right now and he loves reading, not as much as video games, but still reads quite a lot so I’m not too worried! I am, however, finding it harder and harder to find good books that suit his reading level (he’s tackled the Lord of the Rings trilology, ffor example) AND his emotional level, and that’s the sticky part.
He’s not quite old enough to get into the teen novels, but he wants an intelligent read. He is drawn towards funny books, but again I find it hard to find a funny age-appropriate book.

He’s really enjoyed the Harry Potter Series, The Charlie Bone Series (also about kids and magic,) A Series of Unfortunate Events, The Golden Compass, really a lot of popular books, so I want to delve further into the world of books.

One book I highly recommend for this age group (maybe grade 6-9,) is Can You Spell Revolution: a Novel by Matt Beam. It incorporates history of various revolutionary movements and leaders and applies it to the everyday life of a grade 8 boy that is growing and changing, starting to make decisions that define who he is.

It’s fun and funny and educational in that ‘it doesn’t even seem educational’ way. It’s very, very smart. I think it’s been my brother’s favorite book, that I’ve gotten him anyway, he was very enthusiastic about it (which he rarely if ever fakes and is not terribly good at it anyway!) AND he wanted to talk about it, which was great!
Does anyone else have any book suggestions for the pre-adolescent boy?

Chris Stren is not having a good time in Grade Eight. He hates his schoolwork and his teacher; his mother is always on his case about something; and his best friend won’t talk to him anymore. Quiet and shy, he feels as though his life is floating away. Then one day out of the blue, Clouds McFadden, the new boy in his small-town school, rocks his dull world. The pushy and articulate Clouds formulates a plot to overthrow the leadership of the school in order to provide voice to the student body. By the students, and for the students! He gathers Chris and a few other Grade Eights to become a group called the Revolutionists. Each member is charged to perform an “Act of Dissent” based on historical precedents, such as Mahatma Gandhi’s acts of non-resistance and Woodward and Berstein’s exposure of the Watergate scandal. However, the Revolutionist’s plan goes wrong when Clouds assumes the role of a dictator and threatens to use violence to achieve his goals. When Chris discovers that Clouds is attempting to imitate Vladimir Lenin, he must find the courage, and power to take control of the Revolutionist project and save his school.

In my opinion, the only, and most important theme in this novel is revolution. The student body, mainly the Revolutionist’s, try to change the hands of power and authority in their schools. Through out the novel the ideas, the personas, and mutual talk among the students are embedded around the idea of revolution and different revolutionists.

One aspect of the book that I loved was that it was told from the point of view of the main character, Chris. This was a great attribute to they way the story was told since it made it easier for me to relate to and when you can relate yourself to a book you will be more engage and eager to read it. Also the integration of historical events, and prominent figures gave a small yet enjoyable history class. The idea of the flaws that tyrants in a school have also added to the interests the book has because every adolescent can relate to an event that he or she has witnessed in her lifetime, about the unfair, or authoritarian treatment by a teacher or higher power.

The book was entertaining, and I really didn’t know how it was going to play out. Matt Beam manages to set his plot up quickly and then to keep you in suspense for a good long while. One thing that I was disappointed with was that the transitions of character development through out the book was a little to fast, and clunky. The author, Matt Beam, could have expanded and added more meat to each scene as well, but the use of allusions (Woodward, Vladimir Lenin, etc.) and metaphors (“…lifted our heads, like cautious soldiers in a field.”) made the story more real, and made the reader get a sense of the picture being portrayed.

Overall this entire book was an A++ on my charts! I recommend this book to anyone 11 and up, who have a bit of interest in history and a dislike in authority, and those who prefer to preserve a sole leadership in their classrooms will want to avoid this story.

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