1.12.2008

Reading Life 19

Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick

To be honest , I must admit upfront (to my shame) that I've had my copy of this book some 5 years, just sitting there on my shelf, first in my office in South Texas where I taught, and then in my office at Texas Tech University. I'd never felt compelled to read it, and yet, a couple of days ago for some reason I picked it up and haven't been able to put it down until now when I finished it. Come to find out, the book's part of one thread on a list I'm on: a principal in Texas didn't want her middle-schoolers to read the book because of stuff she'd read about it. Fortunately, she is a thinking principal (in my estimation), one of those worth their weight in platinum and gold and other various and sundry precious metals. Instead of relying on hearsay, she relied on the book itself, what Kevin (Freak) calls "a four-letter word for truth serum." Libraries are places "where they keep the truth serum, and the magic carpets." And in reading this book, both this principal and I have gotten our shot of truth. It's a wonderful book, and this administrator has realized it. So her students will be able to read it, from what I can tell in the postings. Thanks to her, thanks to the educator at the school who stood up for the book, for the truths in the book, for the characters, Maxwell, the freakishly gigantic boy, and Kevin, the boy born with a defect that keeps him small on the outside while his insides grown normally. These two are the unlikeliest of friends, but they bond, almost literally. Kevin rides high on Max's shoulders, and they become Freak the Mighty, knights of the old order out to hunt and slay dragons, to aide damsels in distress, and to go on one quest after another. I won't say more about the storyline. I'll say this, though: it was my mistake for not having read it a long time ago.

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