Nancy Keane's Booktalks -- Quick and Simple

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Korman, Gordon
New York : Hyperion Books for Children, 2000
IL 3-6, RL 5.3
ISBN 0786805315

(3 booktalks)

Booktalk #1

8th grader Wallace Wallace’s book review is not exactly what his teacher was expecting. The assignment was to give an honest opinion about the book, write about their favorite part and character and make a recommendation. Here are the first few lines of Wallace’s report:

“Old Shep, My Pal by Zack Paris is the most boring book I’ve read in my entire life. I did not have a favorite character. I hated everybody equally. The most interesting part came on the last page where it said “The End.” This book couldn’t be any lousier if it came with a letter bomb. I would not recommend it to my worst enemy.”  The real problem with this honest opinion of Wallace’s is that the book he has chosen to write about just happens to be his English teacher’s favorite book of all time. Mr. Fogelman is therefore understandably unhappy with Wallace’s report – as well as with his argument that every book about a dog that is supposed to be a “classic” ends up with the dog dying (thus the title of the book). And assigns him to rewrite it. After school in detention. The fiasco begins when Wallace reports to the gym to serve his detention – and finds the drama club rehearsing their new play – an adaptation of Old Shep, My Pal, written by, you guessed it, Mr. Fogelman. Wallace has no plans to rewrite his book review, and Mr. Fogelman refuses to let him off detention until he does. So every day Wallace comes to detention, and every day he has to watch play rehearsal. It’s not long before he has some comments to make about the script. Mr. Fogelman dismisses them, but the actors agree. Before Wallace knows it he’s practically rewritten the entire play – and suddenly isn't minding detention so much after all!  (Susan Dunn, Colorado Blue Spruce YA Book Award, 2003)

Booktalk #2

Wallace Wallace is the hometown hero after he accidentally dived on the football in the end zone during last year’s championship game. Normally, Wallace sat on the bench during most of the football game, but this game, he just happened to be at the right place at the right time.

                    His best friend, Steve Cavanaugh, likes to think of himself as the best player on the team. When Wallace gets credit for winning the game, Steve becomes Wallace’s ex-best friend.

                    The problem with Wallace is that he can’t tell a lie. He absolutely cannot tell a lie about anything and sometimes telling the truth gets him in more trouble. Prime example: Wallace has to write a book report about a book called Old Shep, May Pal. That may seem innocent enough except that Wallace hated the book. He wrote:

                    Old Shep, My Pal by Zach Paris is the most boring book I’ve read in my entire life. I did not have a favorite character. I hated everybody equally. The most interesting part came on the last page where it said “The End.” This book couldn't be any lousier if it came with a letter bomb. I would not recommend it to my worst enemy.

                    When Mr. Fogelman reads the review, he hits the ceiling and puts Wallace on detention until he writes a proper book report. As it happens, the detention is held in the gym where the drama team is rehearsing for their play. The title of the play? Old Shep, My Pal. Wallace refuses to write a review that he feels would be a pack of lies just to please Mr. Fogelman., so the detention stretches into weeks. Wallace has to endure the boring script since he refuses to rewrite the report. When one of the cast asks Wallace’s opinion on one of his lines, Wallace tells the truth like only Wallace can.

                    The cast likes Wallace’s revision and starts asking for more much to Mr. Fogelman’s exasperation. In the mean time, the team and everybody else is upset with Wallace because while he serves detention, he can’t play football. Every one expects him to be the salvation of a losing team. No one believes him when he tells them that he is not the great player they think he is. When someone starts trying to sabotage the play by ruining the scenery, and dumping pepper on the cast during rehearsal, everyone blames Wallace.

                    Will Wallace cave in and write the review the way Mr. Fogelman wants it or will he stay and ruin the play? And what about the football team? Will they turn their backs on Wallace too?

                    To find the answers to these questions and more, read No More Dead Dogs by Gordon Korman.  (Pam Bowers,, Media Specialist, Kershaw, SC)

Booktalk #3

You would think Wallace Wallace is a strange boy, but not because his first name is the same as his last. Wallace Wallace is a boy who never lies, all because his dad couldn't tell a story without lying.
The choice to never lie turns out to be a bad idea. Wallace is a football hero for picking up a fumble for a touchdown, but then there’s a fumble that he can't pick up writing a book review about Old Shep, My Pal, a book he absolutely hated.
Now Wallace is serving detention and has to spend it at play practice which keeps him away from football. Wallace doesn't have to just serve detention he has to find out who is messing up the play and framing him. He starts getting used to the play and has to make the biggest decision of his life.
I really recommend this book, and everyone should grab a hold of this book when you have a chance. This book will make you laugh out loud and jump out of your seat. Everyone will love this book because it has a little something for boys and girls.  (Aldin, K-12 student)

SUBJECTS:     Plays -- Fiction.
                        Schools -- Fiction.
                        Football -- Fiction.
                        Humorous stories.


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