From Goodreads: Thirteen-year-old Steven has a totally normal life: he plays drums in the All-Star Jazz band, has a crush on the hottest girl in the school, and is constantly annoyed by his five-year-old brother, Jeffrey. But when Jeffrey is diagnosed with leukemia, Steven's world is turned upside down. He is forced to deal with his brother's illness and his parents' attempts to keep the family in one piece. Salted with humor and peppered with devastating realities, DRUMS, GIRLS, AND DANGEROUS PIE is a heartwarming journey through a year in the life of a family in crisis.
My Two Cents: This book is a beautiful combination of humor and heart, one that literally made me laugh and cry. Steven is such a believable and endearing main character. Readers will sympathize with him and care about him and, ultimately, grow with him. Steven's family and friends are all well-drawn, and each makes their own mistakes and plays a touching role in the overall story. This is a great book for boys (and girls), for musicians (and non-musicians), for any kid who likes to laugh and wants to care.
Grade Level: 4-7
- Jordan Sonnenblick's website, including a curriculum guide for this book
- Learn basic drum techniques with these video tutorials from an expert
- Listen to some of the music from the book, like Cubana Be, Cubana Bop and Jump Jive an' Wail
- When Steven wants to avoid thinking about something, he does a complex math problem in his head. Work through some complex math problems in your head! You can start with these.
- Do your own fundraiser for a family in need, or for cancer research or a local children's hospital. There are ideas here and here to get you started.
- Another (YA) story where the family is dealing with a younger sibling's health problem: Just One Wish by Jeanette Rallison
- Another kid who finds inner strength to save a member of his family with a little help from his friends: Geeks, Girls, and Secret Identities by Mike Jung
- Another book with a big brother who learns a lot from eventually looks up to a formerly-annoying little sibling: Smiles to Go by Jerry Spinelli