Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie

Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie

4.6 395
by Jordan Sonnenblick
     
 

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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… See more details below

Overview

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.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Carol Mitchell
Told in an authentic teenaged voice, Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie takes readers through a landmark year in the life of a thirteen-year-old boy. It starts out like any other story, in which we meet Steven, a teen boy whose biggest problems are getting noticed by the girl of his dreams, playing the drums in his band, and dealing with his delightfully meddlesome five-year-old brother, Jeffrey. Things take a tragic turn, however, when Jeffrey is diagnosed with leukemia. Steven’s mother practically disappears from his life as she quits her job and throws her time into Jeffrey’s care. Steven’s father, unable to cope with the fact of his son’s illness and the possibility of financial ruin from the medical bills, withdraws, barely communicating with him. Steven tries to handle it all himself but it does not go well and he finds himself failing in school. At first he keeps his brother’s illness a secret and tries to find ways to solve things himself, but he eventually reaches out to others and discovers that sometimes in difficult situations you have to find the things that you can change and let go of the rest. Although this book addresses a serious topic, it is never depressing; in fact, the story is light, frequently hilarious, and very believable. It will be thoroughly enjoyed by teen readers, drummers, and non-drummers alike. Reviewer: Carol Mitchell; Ages 12 up.
Publishers Weekly
"This insightful debut novel charts the way a talented 13-year-old drummer's life changes when his five-year-old brother, Jeffrey, is diagnosed with leukemia," according to PW. Ages 10-14. (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
KLIATT
Steven is in the 8th grade; he's a talented drummer who is part of an all-city jazz band, one of the youngest members. He's got a crush on a beautiful girl, a math whiz; but another girl seems more interested in him. That's the drums and girls part of the title. The "dangerous pie" is more difficult to explain, but it is something outrageous Steven's little brother Jeffrey says. Jeffrey is a precocious kindergarten student, who drives Steven nuts, but Steven doesn't realize at the beginning of the story just how important Jeffrey is in his life. Amidst the quite funny wisecracks and comments (Steven is considered a good musician with a wicked sense of humor) comes tragedy when Jeffrey is diagnosed with leukemia. Everything changes: to manage the cancer therapy, the mother has to quit her teaching job and thus the family income is cut in half; the father retreats into a non-communicative shell of grief; Steven is troubled and angry; little Jeffrey endures painful and nauseating treatments. Months later, everyone in the family is exhausted but learning to communicate, to pull together better. The school psychologist offers this wisdom to Steven: "Instead of agonizing about the things you can't change, why don't you try working on the things you can change?" Sonnenblick describes family life with great skill, and the frequently humorous anecdotes are entertaining, even when the basic story is grim. He manages to balance between horror and humor. This is the author's first novel, and he brings to it his knowledge of middle school students (he's been a middle school English teacher) and his understanding of how families work (he's married and the father of two children). Readers will love eachand every character. KLIATT Codes: J—Recommended for junior high school students. 2004, Scholastic, 273p., Ages 12 to 15.
—Claire Rosser
Children's Literature
Having a brother is more than terrible—according to 13-year-old Steven. Jeffrey, Steven's younger brother, is the typical little brother. They live a pretty normal life until Jeffrey falls off the stool while Steven is making breakfast because Jeffrey had aches. Jeffrey's mother takes him to the hospital, and Steven has to go to school knowing that it was his fault his brother fell. When they get back from the hospital, they learn that Jeffrey's aching is cancer. Jeffrey, along with his mother, goes away for awhile for treatment and Steven is left to stay with his father. The family faces many issues and deal with their feelings in this story. Readers will learn early on what "Dangerous Pie" is and will learn about the strength that Steven finds while drumming which may pull him through. Author, Frank McCourt stated the intensity of this book perfectly, " . . . Sonneblick carries it off with such charm and elan, you forget for a moment your heart is breaking." All readers will enjoy this book. 2005, Scholastic Press, Ages 12 up.
—Kelly Grebinoski
School Library Journal
Gr 6-9-On stage for his eighth-grade graduation, Steven recalls the past school year during which his five-year-old brother, Jeffrey, was diagnosed with and treated for leukemia. Steven is an avid drummer, journal writer, and generally a good student. But the pressures of dealing with Jeff's illness stresses his entire family as his school-teacher mom takes a leave to care for him, Dad withdraws, and Steven stops doing homework. Renee Albert is the object of his lust, while Annette, the piano player in jazz band, gradually becomes beautiful in his eyes. Steven's frequent faux pas seem belabored early in the book, but they do eventually work to show him to be an admirable fellow who grows in his ability to deal with others, including Renee and Annette, the school counselor, his parents, and Jeff. The book does not miss a single emotional beat, taking every opportunity to demonstrate that Lurlene McDaniel has no stranglehold on jerking tears as Steven details the progress of leukemia's inexorable attack. If the young characters sometimes speak beyond their years and if Steven's wise-ass voice is initially annoying, it is also fresh, energetic, and consistent, becoming more likable as the novel progresses. One stylistic device seemed unnecessary and distracting: characters' speech is indicated by italics, while quotation marks are used to set off Steven's inner thoughts and for special emphasis.-Joel Shoemaker, Southeast Junior High School, Iowa City, IA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
First-time author Sonnenblick has pulled off a rare feat. Not only did he make this story about a 13-year-old boy, whose little brother contracts leukemia, real and raw and heart-rending, he made it hysterically funny as well. Steven Alper, who is untalented in sports but terrific on the drums, is giving his pesky five-year-old brother Jeffrey oatmeal when Jeffrey, who has been complaining recently that his "parts hurt," falls off a stool and gets a nosebleed that just won't quit. That night Steven finds out that Jeffrey has leukemia. Although the plot-Steven's stressed-out family has no energy for him and he becomes a source of strength for his brother while simultaneously falling apart himself-is conventional, the subsidiary characters at home, school and the hospital have a flesh-and-blood reality and the situations ring true. Moreover, the reader falls in love with the brothers, laughing and crying by turns and rooting for both of them until it almost hurts. (Fiction. 12+)
From the Publisher

Kirkus 9/1/05
DRUMS, GIRLS AND DANGEROUS PIE
Author: Sonnenblick, Jordan

Review Date: SEPTEMBER 01, 2005
Publisher:Scholastic
Pages: 288
Price (hardback): $16.99
Publication Date: 9/1/2005 0:00:00
ISBN: 0-439-75519-0
ISBN (hardback): 0-439-75519-0
Category: CHILDREN'S
First-time author Sonnenblick has pulled off a rare feat. Not only did he make this story about a 13-year-old boy, whose little brother contracts leukemia, real and raw and heart-rending, he made it hysterically funny as well. Steven Alper, who is untalented in sports but terrific on the drums, is giving his pesky five-year-old brother Jeffrey oatmeal when Jeffrey, who has been complaining recently that his "parts hurt," falls off a stool and gets a nosebleed that just won't quit. That night Steven finds out that Jeffrey has leukemia. Although the plot—Steven's stressed-out family has no energy for him and he becomes a source of strength for his brother while simultaneously falling apart himself—is conventional, the subsidiary characters at home, school and the hospital have a flesh-and-blood reality and the situations ring true. Moreover, the reader falls in love with the brothers, laughing and crying by turns and rooting for both of them until it almost hurts. (Fiction. 12+)

Booklist Starred Review 9/15/05
\\\\\\\\*STAR* Sonnenblick, Jordan. Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie. Sept. 2005. Scholastic, $16 (0-439-75519-0).
Gr. 5–8. Steven Alper is a typical eighth-grader––smarter than some, certainly a better drummer than most, but with the usual girl problems and family trials. Then, on October 7, his five-year-old brother Jeffery falls, has a nosebleed that doesn't stop, and is diagnosed with leukemia. All hell breaks loose. Mrs. Alper's days and nights revolve around getting Jeffrey to his chemotherapy treatments, and Mr. Alper retreats into a shell, coming out only occasionally to weep over the mounting medical bills. Steven becomes the forgotten son, who throws himself into drumming, even as he quits doing his homework and tries to keep his friends from finding out about Jeffrey's illness. A story that could have morphed into melodrama is saved by reality, rawness, and the wit Sonnenblick infuses to Steven's first-person voice. The recriminations, cares, and nightmares that come with a cancer diagnosis are all here, underscored by vomiting, white blood cell counts, and chemotherapy ports. Yet, this is also about regrouping, solidarity, love, and hope. Most important for a middle-grade audience, Sonneblick shows that even in the midst of tragedy, life goes on, love can flower, and that the one thing you can always change is yourself. ––Ilene Cooper

Kliatt 9/1/05
SONNENBLICK, Jordan. Drums, girls & dangerous pie. Scholastic. 273p. Steven is in the 8th grade; he's a talented drummer who is part of an all-city jazz band, one of the youngest members. He's got a crush on a beautiful girl, a math whiz; but another girl seems more interested in him. That's the drums and girls part of the title. The "dangerous pie" is more difficult to explain, but it is something outrageous Steven's little brother Jeffrey says. Jeffrey is a precocious kindergarten student, who drives Steven nuts, but Steven doesn't realize at the beginning of the story just how important Jeffrey is in his life. Amidst the quite funny wisecracks and comments (Steven is considered a good musician with a wicked sense of humor) comes tragedy when Jeffrey is diagnosed with leukemia. Everything changes: to manage the cancer therapy, the mother has to quit her teaching job and thus the family income is cut in half; the father retreats into a non-communicative shell of grief; Steven is troubled and angry; little Jeffrey endures painful and nauseating treatments. Months later, everyone in the family is exhausted but learning to communicate, to pull toget

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780545722865
Publisher:
Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
04/29/2014
Edition description:
Reissue
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
26,910
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

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