Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie

Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie

4.6 396
by Jordan Sonnenblick, Joel Johnstone, Joel Johnstone
     
 

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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

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

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

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780439895507
Publisher:
Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
11/01/2006
Edition description:
Abridged
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 6.30(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Jordan Sonnenblick is the author of the acclaimed teen novels Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie, Notes from the Midnight Driver, and Zen and the Art of Faking it. In addition to being a writer, he’s a middle-school English teacher and would never penalize one of his students for bringing an imaginary friend to school. Jordan lives in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, with his wife and their two children. If he’s ever had an imaginary friend, he’s not telling! You can visit him on the Web at www.jordansonnenblick.com.

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Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 396 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is about a boy whose brother is diagnosed with luekemia. The boy learns not to sweat the small stuff. This book is really inspiring to me because one of my younger cousins has leukemia. It really helped me get over it. Thanks!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I felt every word of this book. It nearly made me cry at the sad parts, and laugh at the happy ones. This is how you know your book is good. I praise this masterpeice.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a very inspirational book. I got to meet the author along with a group of my friends. We found out that he used to be an english teacher who had a student that was the most sweet and friendly girl ever whise name was Sam. He said that one day in class she and one of her friends would not stop talking and giggling. He wasnt mad but he wanted to teach. So he moved her seat next to someone else. The same thing continued to happen. He moved her to a girl who was shy and never really talked unless she really had to. But sam got her to start talking. The same thing happened to the girl. Jordan didnt know what to do. One day he walked into the front office to see if he could get some breakfast which he had skipped that morning. He wanted to buy a chocolate bar. He put in money into a box which said proceeds to sams brother who has leukemia. He didnt realize that this was the sam in his class. He realized that it was her and even with everytthig going on, she always had a smile on her face and was always sweet to everyone. This is how he got the inspiration to write this book. Sam moved on her brother was doinv well, in 11th grade her brothdr got really ad and passedaway from leukemia. Jordan had just recently written this book drums girls and dangerous pie, when he found out this news. His book git publised and he gave the book to sam and her family. The next day they called, jordan was nervous that they wouldnt like it especially after the passing of their son/brother. They said they really liked the book. I thkught tthis was am amazimg book and very inspirational def top pick on my list.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was a tear jerking story from thr beginning. The end made me cry very hard because i could relate. I have been hospitilized a lot as a kid and my older sister has been there by my side through it all. This story is very inspiring and its my all time favorite book!!! 5 stars most definately!
Susan Gasko More than 1 year ago
Fantastic book for young adults.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
"The most annoying thing in the world is...My little brother, Jeffrey." That's what thirteen-year-old Steven Alper had written in his journal for his English class. But on October 7th, everything changed. Jeffrey had a small accident in the kitchen, was taken to the emergency room, and was diagnosed with leukemia.

Steven's life turns upside down, and just when he needs his parents the most, his mom has to spend most of her days at the hospital taking care of his brother, and his dad is mostly keeping to himself, too worried about the bills to spend time with or even talk to his oldest son. Steven wants to believe that everything will just go back to normal, and tries to release his anger, anxiety, and fears by playing the drums. But his brother doesn't seem to be getting any better, and Steven has a hard time concentrating at school, he's not turning in his homework, and his grades are starting to fall behind. To make things worse, he doesn't want anyone to find out what is going on--but somehow his best friend, Annette, the school counselor, and even Renee Albert, the hottest girl in the eighth grade, all seem to know that something is not right.

This unforgettable novel took me on an incredibly moving ride. And when I felt I was all the way down on this emotional roller coaster, and found myself struggling to see the words through my tears, Sonnenblick lifted me up gently, word by word, page by page, and put a grin on my face that eventually turned into a big smile and then an out-loud laugh. The author's great voice shows real characters with real feelings, and the true struggle of a teenager trying to understand the unfairness of a deadly disease, and how to cope with the fear of losing his beloved little brother.

So you think your little brother is a pest? You will think again after reading this touching story.

Tissues are highly recommended.

The paperback edition of DRUMS, GIRLS, & DANGEROUS PIE also includes a section with an interview, information about the author, tips on writing, and a preview of Jordan Sonnenblick's next novel, NOTES FROM THE MIDNIGHT DRIVER.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Okay, let me just tell you I'm a 7th grader and I'm 12 years old. At my school, every Wednesday, we have something called Eagles Nest between 2nd hour and A lunch. (Thats the first lunch of tge dsy, followed by B lunch and C lunch.) In everyone's Eagles Nest, we started reading this book. We haven't finished it yet. Well, my class hasn't. I don't know about the others... Oh well off topic! I have a 2 year old 'terror' brother, so im familiar with Steven and Jeffrey's relationship. In fact, my mother has leukemia. So yes, I can understand the problems and stguff. No, I'm not an ordinary 12 year old! The author of this book [Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie] (so sorry I forgot the author's name) came to my school to give a speech about, well about the books he's written and his inspiration. He said he was a teacher before he wrote books, and of course, he played the drums. So he told us how he started this book. When he was teaching 8th grade, there was a girl named Emily. She laughed a lot during class, so he moved all the "boring" people to sit next to her- like an emo guy and the quietest girl in class. Emiily ended up being everyones best friend. It turns out, Emily's little brother had cancer. Emily was laughing a lot because it helped her get through it. So at a parent/teacher conference, the author told Emily's mom he thought she was so brave. He offered to find a book about a sibling with cancer, and Emily's mom took the offer. He searched and searched and searched, but there was no book about a sibling with cancer. So he wrote one. By the time he finished the book, Emily was already graduating. But the students- including Emily- had to complete the Final Exam. If they didn't turn it in, they didn't graduate. Emily didn't turn in hers. She missed school and missed her gradiation just to hold her little brother's hand before he went to Philidelphia. (I think I may have spelled it wrong.) But, Emily did graduate and she did end up turning in her Final Exam. But when this book was released, it was already too late- Emily's little brother had died a few weeks earlier. If anyone ever looks at this book and says, "Nah, who cares about cancer and leukemia," I would just slap them across the face. Emily, Steven and I all have something in common- we all haave a family member with cancer or leukemia. So if anyone ever doeesnt read this book just because it's about cancer, they just don't care about stuff like that. They're stupid. All in all, (and no this isn't someone's English essay, although I wish it was) this is a great book about dealing with leukemia, whether you or a sibling has it. Who wouldn't read it? If you liked this book, I recommend After Ever After, the sequel to Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie. Thank you for reading this and spending your time, and I hope I persuaded you to read this [book]. Sincerely, Victoria E. Wright
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very well written book in the eyes of a bigger brother. As if teen hormones arnt enough to deal with- his baby beloved brother has CANCER. I recommend this book to everyone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I gotta say this book is awsone and awesome and sad! Enjoy
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So a guy i know got brain cancer as we were reading this book and me and about 500 other people could see how awful it is. This is trulybone of the best books i ever read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this bopk soo much and i read the sequal to it also. I have no other words to describe this book but touching and it made me appreciate everything i have.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Man boobs
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is awesome no matter who you are you will love this book and if you dont then there is definitely somethimg wrong with you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is amazing!!! It made me cry when i found out jeffery had cancer.jordan sonnenblick came to my school and talked about this book and i knew that i had tto read it!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I only read the sample but i am already hooked. I will write another review after i read the book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I honestly love the book! You wiuld have to have no heart not to love it or no humor.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it <3<3<3<3
MarcusW More than 1 year ago
Incredible Book This book is an about how things may be bad but there will always be a turning outcome. The book has a plot were the character named Steven makes his brother has a nose bleed and he soon finds out later that his brother is sick and has leukemia. Steven always wishes of the best outcome, but it always turns out the same he gets bad news on every bad situation. The book shows how a teenage boy can get out all of these outcomes. Favorite Character Steven is my favorite character in this book he shows how to stay positive through any tough situation even though it may be his last hope. Steven tries to fix things to make people not think about all of the bad problems. Pace The pace of the book starts off fast and it doesn&rsquo;t slow down it has an all around engaging pace and it attacks the reader and makes the reader never want to stop. Message The author is giving a message to the reader is that you may have an good outcome no matter what the problem or the situation may be.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Although the book is sad I really enjoyed reading it Never read anything like it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book im reading The next book called ever after
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book has everything between comedy care love and emotion. I see why we ate doing this book for book club.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is the best ! I first read it when I had it as an actual book , and not on my nook tablet. It basically inspires you to appreciate the littler things in life because you dont know what you have until its gone
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book So funny Kinda sad
wolvesLK More than 1 year ago
This book is a great book that teaches you to appreciate stuff in life and is really inspiering. You will want to finish this book in one day. It is a book you will not forget.
Yaboilawy More than 1 year ago
This book is great, it keeps you turning the page, you never want to put it down! the story line is amazing and you will want to finish it in one day!