Monday, June 27, 2011

Book 3 - The life and times of The Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson - Des Moines, Iowa, USA

I was looking for some light relief after eathquakes and death of a sibling and this books was billed as "Bryson at his best:laugh out loud" by the Observer. I did laugh out loud a few times I must admit. Bill Bryson recounts episodes from his childhood and at the same time comments on life growing up in Iowa, USA in the 1950's.

"Happily, we were indestructible. We didn't need seat belts, airbags, smoke detectors, bottled water or the Heimlech manoeuvre...We didn't need helmets when we rode our bikes or pads for our knees and elbows when we went skating."

While it is very entertaining in places I fear it will not have huge appeal for teenagers as some of the social commentary is very detailed. The whole idea of this challenge is to find books that my secondary students will enjoy reading.  Where it could be useful is in encouraging students to write memoir. Bill certainly shows us that ordinary life is very entertaining when the stories of childhood are told well and in some cases slightly exaggerated. Bill's mother for example "...would like the record to show... that she is nothing like as bad a cook as her feckless son persists in portraying her in his books." As the final chapter shows sometimes good writing means not letting the facts get in the way of a good story.

To look inside the book - Amazon and for a review try the New York Times.