Just One Flick of a Finger

Just One Flick of a Finger

5.0 1
by Marybeth Lorbiecki, David Diaz
     
 

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Jack is tired of being afraid, so he takes his father's gun to school--not to use, but to scare off his tormentor, a bully named Reebo. When the gun accidentally goes off during a scuffle, events take a turn that Jack never expected. Vital truths about courage, friendship--and guns--unfold. No one is the same again. Full color.See more details below

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Overview

Jack is tired of being afraid, so he takes his father's gun to school--not to use, but to scare off his tormentor, a bully named Reebo. When the gun accidentally goes off during a scuffle, events take a turn that Jack never expected. Vital truths about courage, friendship--and guns--unfold. No one is the same again. Full color.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Speaking with a staccato, rap-like cadence, the teenage narrator of this stark picture book for middle-graders sets the scene: "The rule/ at my school/ is you're a fool/ if you can't get/ your hand on a gun." So when his nemesis, Reebo, gets in his face, the narrator steals a revolver from his father's drawer as the man sleeps off his beer. Lorbiecki (Of Things Natural, Wild, and Free) here interjects a trenchant note; as the boy grabs the gun, he muses: "I wondered then and there/ if he would care/ if something happened to me." When he brings the weapon to school, his best pal, Sherms, "freaks" and reminds him that his "big bro" is doing time for a gun-related incident. But the warning falls on deaf ears; the narrator reaches for the gun after Reebo provokes him, and Sherms gets shot trying to intervene. They all survive and obviously learn a lesson, which Lorbiecki unequivocally passes on to readers. Adopting a design reminiscent of Diaz's Wilma Unlimited, this book superimposes his stylized paintings of harsh, tension-filled scenes against backgrounds of digitally manipulated photos. These present a variety of images, some recognizable and some abstract, reproduced in neon colors that command as much attention as the author's message. Ages 8-up. (Sept.)
VOYA - Bette Ammon
This picture book for older readers opens with a view down gun barrels, forecasting a grim yet topical theme-guns and violence in schools. What follows is a free-verse text illustrated with fluorescent acrylics and digitally manipulated photographs. Written with occasional hip-hop rhyme, the story is about Jack, a teenager who brings a gun to school for protection against a bully. Predictably, Jack shoots his best friend instead and learns his lesson well. While somewhat simplistic and moralistic, the point is well taken and immediate. Diaz's bright mosaic backgrounds sometimes include inner-city signs and images. These and the photo-like framed illustrations on each page give readers much to see and interpret. Primarily, this book will serve well as a springboard for introducing this topic for discussion and further study. The style might also inspire poetry dealing with current interests and issues. VOYA Codes: 3Q 3P M J S (Readable without serious defects, Will appeal with pushing, Middle School-defined as grades 6 to 8, Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9 and Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12).
Children's Literature - Rebecca Joseph
Children and adults alike will appreciate this unusual picture book which through Lorbiecki's beautiful prose and Caldecott winner Diaz's bold, colorful illustrations brings to life a story that will resonate with many of today's young people. Young Jack is tired of being taunted and threatened by bully Reebo. Despite the opposition of his friend Sherms, Jack decides to face down Reebo and his abuse, once and for all, by bringing his dad's gun to school. What happens next changes the lives of all the characters in this book that hauntingly explores courage, friendship, respect, and guns in the lives of urban young people.
School Library Journal
Gr 3 UpThe issue of adolescents taking guns to school is intensely played out in narrative and depiction. The verselike text is hip street talk and the bold, craggy images are recognizable as Diaz's style. Jack resorts to taking his father's gun to scare off a bully at school. When Reebo, "mean as a needle and thin as a weenie," torments him, disaster is averted when Jack's friend Sherms tackles him, knocking the gun away. Both boys end up in the hospital, smarter in attitude, recovering physically, and bonded as real "blood brothers." Designed to convey a gut reaction akin to that of the characters, the layout affixes black-framed scenes of action on the recto pages and highlighted, goldenrod blocks of text on the verso against vivid, amorphously splotched backgrounds. Added to the look is a type style created by Diaz that makes some letters more pronounced and puts dots inside the o's (looking up the barrel of a gun?). The peculiar stylization is distracting to the flow of reading. Though the subject is serious, the heavy tone edges close to dramatization but lacks emotion. The title admonishes, the message shrouds the story, and the brazen loudness of the artwork borders on overkill.Julie Cummins, New York Public Library
Hazel Rochman
"I wanted to be bad, so bad no one would mess with me." The setting is a bleak city neighborhood, but every bullied kid will understand Jack's wish. In simple free verse, he tells how he tries to stay out of trouble, but Reebo is out to get him. Jack steals his dad's revolver ("as he [sleeps] off his latest beer" ) and wonders if his dad would care if anything happened to him. Jack's friend, Sherms, does care, and he's appalled when Jack appears with the gun. Jack is white; both his friend and his enemy are black. Sure enough, the bully confronts Jack, Sherms tries to intervene, the gun goes off, Sherms is wounded--but then everything works out all right in the end. Diaz's dramatic, framed mixed-media paintings of schoolyard friendship and confrontation are like larger-than-life street murals, almost comic book in style with huge eyes and exaggerated gestures. As in his Caldecott winner, "Smoky Nights" (1994), the background evokes a kind of feverish excitement with neon-lit graffiti, peeling walls, flashing color. The writing is terse, the standoffs dramatic ("Reebo just smiled like ice sliced thin" ), but the story is so contrived, the messages so heavy-handed, that few kids will buy either the warnings or the neat solutions. Walter Dean Myers did it far better in his great Newbery Honor Book "Scorpions" (1988), in which the gun drives the friends apart, and there's no happy ending.
Kirkus Reviews
In spare verse that echoes the percussive sound of rap music, the story of a boy and a gun. The narrator (of middle-school age or older) admits that at his school, "You're a fool if you can't get your hand on a gun," and tells a familiar story of a bully, the need to feel in command in an out-of-control environment where there is little parental support. Attempting to threaten his tormentor with his father's gun, the narrator is thwarted by his friend, and both are wounded—a ghastly path to absorbing and rejecting the horror of violence. Diaz's digitally manipulated watercolor-and-acrylic paintings resemble, alternately, stained glass and African sculpture in their monumentality and broad planes of color. Both text and images capture the tension and fear of an urban schoolyard menaced by guns; the implied acceptance of the ease of obtaining a firearm is utterly chilling. While a picture book in format, this could be used very effectively with older children.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780803719491
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
09/01/1996
Edition description:
1st ed
Pages:
36
Product dimensions:
9.81(w) x 9.82(h) x 0.35(d)
Lexile:
820L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 Years

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