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Flashback Friday: Swear to Howdy by Wendlin Van Draanen

TITLE: Swear to Howdy

AUTHOR: Wendelin Van Draanen

LENGTH: 144 pages

PUBLISHER: Yearling (2005)

SUMMARY: Joey Banks is a walking adventure. He’s funny, daring, mischievous—and frequently in trouble. Or he would be if anyone found out about half the stuff he’s done. But Rusty Cooper knows how to keep a secret. And Joey’s the best friend he’s ever had. But then comes a secret that is at once too terrible to tell and too terrible to keep. A secret so big it threatens to eat them alive. What would a true friend do now?

BRIDGE: I’ve used this book as a read aloud for years in both middle school and high school classrooms. Boys and girls alike enjoy the book and the first half of the story is just good, clean fun. It’s a good way to engage students, particularly at the beginning of the year. It is always interesting to watch students make the transition from reading about some innocent, mischevious boys to boys dealing with really heavy issues like hunting and gun safety, child abuse, and suicide. It’s also a way to familiarize students with Socratic Seminar because the book is so engaging and deals with some really contr
READERS: Humor lovers will enjoy this book. The hijinks Rusty and Joey get up to are (mostly) harmless and amusing. Growing up in the South, one can probably pick people from childhood memories who would have been friends with the two. Boys and girls alike will enjoy the story and readers who like a little moral braided into the story will appreciate the lesson that Joey and Rusty have to learn the hard way.oversial issues. (Yes, hunting and gun safety are controversial issues here in the South.) Writing: I also use this book as a good example of voice. Rusty’s informal, Southern diction is distinctive and Van Draanen’s ability to write in a boy’s voice is impressive. It is an interesting exercise to have students try to imitate other cultures writing a “best friend” passage or story using that culture’s slang and typical expressions.

OTHER TITLES: Readers who enjoy this book will also enjoy the Hank Zipzer books by Henry Winkler, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli, or No More Dead Dogs by Gordon Korman.


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