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Murdock, Catherine Gilbert.
New York : Houghton Mifflin, 2006
ISBN 0618683070

(6 booktalks)

Click on the book to read Amazon reviews
Booktalk #1

DJ sometimes feels just like the cows she tends to every day.  The cows just do what they are supposed to do and never question their lives.  And DJ is not so different.  With her older brothers away at college and her father unable to do the farm work, DJ takes on the responsibility of doing the work.  She has no plans for college herself since there is no money to send her.  But this summer may hold some surprises.  The quarterback for the rival school's team is sent to help out on the farm to get into shape.  Even though it is a rocky start to their relationship, Brian soon realizes that DJ knows football.  And DJ has the knowledge to train Brian and help him win a football scholarship.  But can a farm girl really help someone like Brian?

Booktalk #2

She may be “just a girl,” but D.J. knows football.  She has always helped her older brothers’ practice, and now the coach of her rival high school’s team has asked her to train their quarterback and toughen him up.  On top of that, she’s trying to keep the family farm up and running as her ailing father and working mother try to make ends meet.  But as the summer wears on, D.J. begins to realize that she is ready to step out of her role as a helper and practice buddy and step up to the line on her own.  This funny, high-spirited character will have readers cheering in Dairy Queen, by Catherine Murdock.  (New Hampshire Isinglass Teen Read Award committee)

Booktalk #3
Dairy Queen is told through the eyes of D.J. (Dorrie) Schwenk. While her father is recovering from an injury, she does most of the work on her family’s dairy farm since her older brothers are big football stars and away at college.  All the Schwenks are interested in football and D.J. is too.  If you can imagine a big football rivalry like the Eagles and the Cowboys, or Army / Navy, you’ll understand the level of animosity between D.J’s high school, Red Bend, and their archrival, Hawley.   Circumstances arise that put D.J. in the position to train Hawley’s quarterback, Brian, over the summer.  Brian has an attitude.  He’s a bit lazy, kind of rich (at least compared to DJ’s family) and… he’s really cute.  It makes for a story! And D.J.'s voice makes the story come alive. Dairy Queen isn’t just about farm life and football. It also explores the importance of open, honest communication and what can happen if families and friends don’t ever really talk to each other.   (Jean B. Bellavance for Pennsylvania Young Reader's Choice Awards, 2007-2008)

Booktalk #4

Set in Red Bird, Wisconsin. The main character is 15 year old D.J. Schwenk, the only daughter in a dairy farming family that produced two older sons, Win and Bill, high school and college football all stars, and a quiet, smart, but un-athletic younger son, Curtis, D.J. seems to be the only healthy, mature, strong, and hardworking member of the family. Her father is recovering from surgery, and her mother escapes to her job as an elementary school principal, Her three brothers are distant and non-communicating. A close family friend, the football coach in a neighboring small town, sends his star quarterback to the farm to help out, but primarily to develop a work ethic. 
After a summer of training Brian in dairy farming and football fundamentals learned as she worked with her brothers, D.J. decides to go out for her high school’s football team. She is a terrific athlete, although her own sport is really basketball. She makes the football team, and plays well. She and Brian become more involved personally, until she realizes that he does not want his friends to see him with a “dairy queen”. D.J.’s football career ends with an injury as she realizes that rehabilitating for basketball is more important in her life than football---or Brian. And she still has all the farm work to do as well as figure out what her younger brother Curtis is up to when he “borrows” the pick-up and then calls her from the city to help him out. 
This book comes to a satisfying conclusion, but only introduces a compelling sequel, The Off Season.
(Marge Erickson Freeburn,Colorado Blue Spruce Young Adult Book Award Nominees 2009) 

Booktalk #5

When you don’t talk, there’s a lot of stuff that ends up not getting said.

Those are harsh words, and D.J. is kind of shocked to hear them from Brian Nelson of all people. But D.J. also can’t help admitting that Brian might be right. When you don’t talk, there’s a lot of stuff that gets shoved down and ignored, that maybe shouldn’t be.

Stuff like why D.J.’s best friend Amber isn’t so friendly anymore. Or why her little brother Curtis never opens his mouth. Why D.J.’s mom has two jobs and one big secret. Why her college-basketball star brothers won’t call home. And why D.J.’s own dad would go ballistic if D.J. dared to try out for the high school football team herself. And maybe why the guy she’s stuck tutoring, Brian Nelson, football jock and all-around star is so, so very out of her league.

Yeah. When you don’t talk, there’s a lot of stuff ends up not getting said.

Welcome to the summer that fifteen-year-old D.J Shwenk of Red Bend Wisconsin learns to talk, and ends up having an awful lot to say…
(Book talk for the Texas Tyashas Award for the Evergreen YA Book Award, 2009)

Booktalk #6

So I know what you are thinking. "Heifers don't play football." D.J. Schwenk must be crazy thinking she is going to play for the Red Bend, Wisconsin, high school football team.
      The thing is, I am not a bad football player. I'm athletic and I grew up in a football family. My father is an ex-coach. I played pee wee football, and practiced with my two brothers, who are going to college on football scholarships.
      But, you ask, why would any girl want to play football? Here is my answer. When I'm sprinting down a pasture and I look over my shoulder and see the ball coming, and I reach out and make the catch, it is the most perfect feeling in the world. Oh and the other reason is because, if I could make the Red Bend team it will mean I wasn't living like some cow.
      That is what Brian had called me the first time we met. He had been sent to my Dad's farm to learn to work by the coach of the Hawley High football team and he resented it. But what he said rang true and I couldn't stop thinking about it.
      Everybody I looked at, my family and the people I knew did exactly what they were expected to do. They never made choices. They acted like cows. And I was just the same, not pretty or popular, flunking sophomore English because I had to help around the farm since my Dad had gotten hurt.
      But then I got this idea about playing on the football team. Something no other girl, at least around here, had ever done. It would mean I could do something that was my own idea. Something that would make me feel special. The only question was could I make the team. Oh, and how long could I keep the whole thing from my Dad and my best friend Amber.
      BookTalk submitted by Tom Reynolds, Sno-Isle Regional Library, Marysville, WA. (Rhode Island Teen Book Awards, 2008-09)

SUBJECTS:     Football -- Fiction.
                        Farm life -- Fiction. 

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