In most ways, Poe is like the other kids in his school. He thinks about girls and tries to avoid too much contact with teachers. He has a loving father who helps him with his homework. But Poe has a secret, and almost every day some small act threatens to expose him. He doesn't have a phone number to give to friends. He doesn't have an address. Poe and his father are living in a tent on city land. When the city clears the land to build housing, Poe worries that they might not be able to find another site near his...
In most ways, Poe is like the other kids in his school. He thinks about girls and tries to avoid too much contact with teachers. He has a loving father who helps him with his homework. But Poe has a secret, and almost every day some small act threatens to expose him. He doesn't have a phone number to give to friends. He doesn't have an address. Poe and his father are living in a tent on city land. When the city clears the land to build housing, Poe worries that they might not be able to find another site near his school. Will Poe have to expose his secret to get help for himself and his father?
"Tackling the sensitive subject of poverty and homelessness, this book in the series is a gripping read and recommended for reluctant readers."
"The currency of the topic will resonant with teens of any reading ability, all of whom will be rooting for a happy ending. An excellent addition to the Orca Currents series."
The Horn Book Guide
"The story's themes are thought-provoking."
"Living Rough, which offers a real-life example of a student living a tough teenage life, was written for reluctant readers, and so it is both an easy read and a short book. The plot is well planned out, including the suspense of Poe's secret...A realistic novel that involves teen issues to which its intended audience can relate...The plot, dialogue, and characters make this book interesting and well worth the read for a broader audience than just reluctant readers."
Library Media Connection
"With its compassionate take on a contemporary issue and short chapters, the book will appeal to reluctant readers; it can also be used for supplemental reading in social studies classes."
"Once again, the Orca Currents series hits a topical and important issue. Too many teens are dealing with pressures unthinkable for an earlier generation, and these novels present sensitive issues deftly, without the taint of sentimentality."
"A short but nevertheless poignant novel...Watson's book is incredibly relevant to the plight of unemployed and homeless youth and families, and is also a testament to the human will to survive and protect. Poe learns about the value of friendship and the willingness of individuals to show compassion. This book is a valuable addition to the Orca Currents series of books...Watson has formulated some memorable and complex characters...[and] the novel is well-rounded and important. Young readers should find the story compelling, the plot fast-paced and the experience enlightening."
- Mary Ann Harlan
The formula this imprint has for high interest/low reading level books will be recognizable to those who have read other titles in the Currents series. In Living Rough, Poe lives in a tent with his homeless father, keeping the secret so they will not be separated. He has learned how to survive but there are things he has not planned for: the new girl at school, the social studies project on homelessness, the city's growth, and a terrible storm. Like many of the Current books, the story is primarily plot driven, although the character of Poe does present some nuance. Power Chords takes on a lighter topic. Ace is virtually invisible to girls, when his effusive friend Denny suggests they start a band. Ace finds that he really likes the music and being in a band. A songwriting contest pulls Ace deeper into his love of music while presenting a conflict with Denny. Again, the story relies primarily on plot, although hints of his past provide a more nuanced picture of Ace, and as a secondary character Denny is more developed than most. The quality of the books should be viewed through the lens of their intent. The short page count does not allow for fully realized characters, or much of a growth arc. The plots are simple and often one-dimensional (particularly in Power Chords); however, the goal of producing contemporary realistic fiction that will be accessible and of interest to struggling and/or reluctant readers is met. (Orca Currents) Reviewer: Mary Ann Harlan
School Library Journal
Gr 6–10—Poe has managed to keep his secret all year, but then he loses his cool in a classroom discussion about homelessness. He has been living in a tent ever since his dad left his job to take care of his mom when she was dying of cancer. When a storm hits, destroying their tent and injuring his father, Poe finds himself having to come clean about his living situation. He is interviewed on a local news station and soon learns that he's surrounded by people who want to help him. Although the story ties up a little too neatly and drags at times, overall it is a fast read that delivers an important message about the complexities of homelessness.—Rachael Myers-Ricker, Horace Mann School, Bronx, NY
Cristy Watson is a teacher who loves reading and writing poetry and YA novels. She was born in Calgary, Alberta, and has lived in San Francisco, Kamloops, Comox, North Vancouver and now resides happily near the beach in sunny White Rock, British Columbia. Cristy hosts open-mic readings at her local coffee shop and likes to enter writing contests, especially ones where there is a challenging time limit.