Soda Jerk

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A series of poems spoken by a young soda jerk in a small town as he observes the people and places around him.

A series of poems spoken by a young soda jerk in a small town as he observes the people and places around him.

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Overview

A series of poems spoken by a young soda jerk in a small town as he observes the people and places around him.

A series of poems spoken by a young soda jerk in a small town as he observes the people and places around him.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Although this unique collaboration by Rylant and Catalanotto is in the format of a 48-page picture book, it is intended for young adult readers. The 28 untitled, resonant poems are an extended dramatic monologue by the book's title character, a sensitive boy who works as a soda jerk in a small Virginia town. ``Living in Cheston,'' he tells the reader, ``is like living in a dream / somebody else is having,'' and it is through the boy's eyes that the reader sees the characters who live in Rylant's southern Spoon River. None are more vividly rendered than the observant narrator himself who, even if he never manages to leave town, consoles himself that at least he ``never slept through the whole show.'' Catalanotto's six richly textured paintings of the drugstore, panoramas evocative of small-town life, are placed like a gallery display at the beginning and middle of the book. Rylant's text is characteristically lyrical and thoughtful. Ages 12-up. Mar.
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-- In poems that stir the senses and (for older readers) the memory, an adolescent ``everyman'' observes his small Virginia town and reflects upon his own life from across the counter at Maywell's Drugstore in a manner reminiscent of Wilder's Our Town . The visual imagery in these poems is so vivid that older readers will be able to see this small town and will recognize the cross-section of those who live there. Moreover, they will see into not only this soda jerk's life but also into the lives of the jocks who ``walk with their arms sticking out some five inches,'' the hunters for whom ``a deer corpse/ is cause for joy among men,'' and the ``old ladies/ who've been somebody's mom/ for so long,/ they have come begging/ for a person to take an interest.'' The first poem ends, ``Tips are okay./ But the secrets are better.'' Each poem that follows reveals the narrator's perceptions of the secrets of the people he encounters, from the sheriff to his own father. This book is one of celebration and resignation by an average adolescent who wants to impress the popular girl and watches to see if anyone buys ``sexual aids,'' but who also cares about people in his town. Catalanotto's watercolor paintings evoke small town life without defining it too specifically and are appropriately grouped so that all but the last poem stand on stark white pages, evoking their own images. The illustrations have an old-fashioned aura, yet combined with the contemporary references in the text, the book may give readers the sense that they are caught up in a time warp rather than in nostalgic reverie. Also, the size, format, and dust jacket indicate that this is a picture book. It will take some effort to get it into the hands of the older audience who will find themselves and their feelings captured in the poems. --Kay E. Vandergrift, School of Communication, Information and Library Studies, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780531058640
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/28/1990
  • Pages: 48
  • Age range: 12 - 14 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.35 (w) x 8.08 (h) x 0.47 (d)

Meet the Author


CYNTHIA RYLANT is the acclaimed author of many beloved books for young people, including the Mr. Putter & Tabby series, the novel Missing May, which received the Newbery Medal, and the Little Whistle series. She lives on an island in Puget Sound, Washington. ARTHUR HOWARD is best known as the illustrator of Cynthia Rylant's Mr. Putter & Tabby series. He is also the illustrator of Kathi Appelt's Bubba and Beau series and has written and illustrated three picture books of his own: Hoodwinked; When I Was Five, an ABA's Pick of the Lists and a Crayola Kids Best Book; and Cosmo Zooms, an IRA-CBC Children's Choice. He lives in New York City.
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