The Absolute Value of Mike

thWhat should you do as a teacher if you find a great book BUT it has a tad bit of inappropriate material in it?  Should you…

  • keep the book to yourself and pretend you never read it?
  • share the book with adults only?
  • save it for unique students?
  • share it widely?
  • write the author an angry letter?

That is the problem I have with the book I recently read titled:  The Absolute Value of Mike.  Mike is a 14-year-old that gets sent to live with distant relatives for the summer and learns a lot about himself in the process.

What is GREAT about this book:

  • The Characters – The characters in this book evoke emotion.  They are an odd and diverse group that keep you wondering what they will do (or not do) next.
  • The Chapter Titles – Each chapter is cleverly named after a math term (formulas, regroup, compatible numbers, etc.)  with the definition provided.  It was fun to use these titles to predict what might happen and then reflect why each chapter was given that term.
  • The Message – The main character learns a lot of important life lessons in this book.  My favorite quote is: “I looked at the other sign on Glady’s desk: We Promise You Absolute Value!  Absolute value?  That was the only math term I understood.  It’s when you take something and it becomes a positive.  I always liked that idea.  It was as if there were hope, even for me” (p. 72).

What is NOT great about this book:

  • The 3 Letter Words
    • The old joke about what happens when you assume something is shared in the book.
    • The Eye Associates of Pennsylvania sign really reads: YE A$$ of Pennsylvania
    • Moo asks Mike if his father has talked to him about $ex.
  • Some of the Descriptions
    • Mike’s description of Glady’s chest
    • Mike’s thoughts about the reporter’s looks

So, what should I do now…hide the book or share it?

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