Monday, April 20, 2015

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday - Me & Mr. Bell

Another interesting story that incorporates historical events with fiction! This short book is easy to read and really worth it. It’s another one of the nominees for the Ontario Library Association’s Silver Birch Award.

Here’s the Amazon description:


Alexander Graham Bell, Baddeck's most illustrious resident, and one of the world's greatest inventors, is also famous for the greatness of his compassion. It's 1908, and ten-year-old Eddie MacDonald shares the friendly inventor's passion for solving problems and for taking long walks in the fields above Bras d'Or Lake. But whereas Bell is renowned by many for being the smartest man in the world, Eddie is just a local farm boy who struggles to learn to read and write. After a few chance encounters, the elderly Bell befriends the young boy, and takes an interest in his struggle - encouraging Eddie to celebrate his successes and never give up. When Bell's long ambition for manned flight culminates in the Silver Dart soaring over Bras d'Or Lake, Eddie is inspired to find solutions to his own challenges.

Me & Mr. Bell by Philip Roy, Cape Breton University Press, Sydney, Nova Scotia, 2013.

My Take:

Even though encounters between Eddie and Mr. Bell were fictional, they seemed very realistic to me. I was rooting for Eddie to start to feel better about himself and recognize his own unique talents. I really liked the way he was determined to overcome his difficulty and tried to find his own solution. 
It was also great that there was no “magic answer” to his reading difficulty (dyslexia) and that he was still struggling and learning from his failures at the end of the story. The details about Alexander Graham Bell's inventions and Helen Keller were intriguing. This is a short book, with a well-paced story that holds the reader’s interest all the way through to the end. 

As a writer, I’d study this book more closely to learn about how to write and plot historical fiction. I especially liked the straightforward writing style.

Opening Line:

“It was spring 1908. I had just turned ten.”

Quotes:

“…as much as we should celebrate our successes, I suppose we have to be grateful for our failures, too.”

“I hadn’t been invited, but everyone there was so friendly I was sure they wouldn’t mind if I just stopped by to say hello.”

“And I knew now that’s what intelligence was—the hunger that the mind has to know things.”

“I crawled upstairs, fell on my bed and listened to the snow tapping on the window like grasshoppers.”

Other Info:

Philip Roy is the author of many books for children, including the Submarine Outlaw series and the Happy the Pocket Mouse picture book series.

He lives in St. Mary’s, Ontario and grew up in Antigonish, Nova Scotia.

In an interview with Keen Readers, he said, “My best ideas for stories always come from being in nature.”


For more, visit Philip Roy's website.


Looking for more Marvelous Middle Grade Monday books? Visit Shannon Messenger’s blog for a list of bloggers reviewing great books today! Shannon is the founder of Marvelous Middle Grade Monday and the author of the Keeper of the Lost Cities series.

4 comments:

  1. I really like a straight forward writing style too. This must be good if you're going to study it. Thanks for sharing it.

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  2. Wow! I love that line about the snow tapping on the window like grasshoppers. That's nice writing. And I like the fact that Eddie's struggles with dyslexia don't magically go away.

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  3. This sounds intriguing! My son loves inventors, especially Bell, and just read Hellen Keller's bio, so this sounds like something he'd like. Reading about how dyslexia was handled in that time period makes this really intriguing to me.

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  4. Thanks so much for the review! I'll definitely keep an eye out for it! :-)

    ~Cindy

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