- Paperback: 160 pages
- Publisher: Play Along Media, LLC (May 25, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1936242036
- ISBN-13: 978-1936242030
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.3 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 7 customer reviews
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Dan Quixote: Boy of Nuevo Jersey
About the Author
Until her return to the United States in 2001, Shevi Arnold was the consumer columnist for Israel’s oldest and largest English language daily, The Jerusalem Post. She also worked for that paper as an arts-and-entertainment writer specializing in comedy and children’s entertainment. For four years she edited a comics magazine, and for seven years she was the cartoonist and illustrator of a religious newsweekly. Her educational background includes degrees in English Literature and Theater Studies, as well as a teacher’s certificate. Like Dan and Sandy, she loves to read, but she loves to write, and share her stories with readers, even more. Shevi Arnold now lives in a beautiful little town in New Jersey with her husband and two children. You can find her website at http://www.shevistories.com.
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Published by Play Along Media, LLC
Shevi Arnold, 2004
ISBN 13# 978-1936242030,paperback, $5.99
ISBN 10# 1936242030, Digital, .99 cents
Review by Christina Francine
Friendship, freedom, and bullies. These are what young people in their adolescent years think about. Adolescence is a time when the opinion of peers is more important than parents'. Arnold knows this and weaves her story, and her eighth-grade characters, around these topics, using humor to soften the seriousness.
Dan and Sandy have been friends for most of their lives and often share the same classes, hurdles, and viewpoints. Sandy sees herself as Dan's sidekick, his squire, his troubadour, like Don Quixote's companion, Sancho Panza. Both Dan and Sandy face the history teacher known as "The Dragon," the class bully known as "The Queen Bee," and Gwen, Dan's object of affection.
Dan and Sandy struggle with The Queen Bee because she tries to rule them as she does most of the eighth-grade and is always surrounded by her "drones." They wonder why many adults accept bullying as a right of passage. It's dangerous and they feel treated unfairly. Sandy decides to become a judge when she grows up. Then, if The Queen Bee did to Dan what she did, she could be arrested for assault. The Queen Bee could also be sued for libel for defiling Dan's reputation by spreading nasty rumors about him.
Dan becomes known as the "Geek King" because of The Queen Bee. At one point, he finally has enough and stands up to both The Queen Bee and The Dragon in the most surprising way.
Sandy addresses her English class one day, even though she's normally quiet. Maybe Dan's bravery was contagious. Sandy talks about Robert Frost's poem called, "The Road Not Taken." She talks about how it takes courage to take the road less traveled. Sandy goes on to say that Dan has taken the road less traveled and isn't worried about what others think, even though they make fun of him. They try to take from him that which makes him special, she adds. In reality, Sandy explains, those who don't take the road less traveled are actually jealous and wish they were brave. The real losers, Sandy says, "lose the chance to become the greatest possible" people they could have become, because they took the safer road.
Sandy worries that Dan's feelings for Gwen might come between them. After a few misunderstandings, Sandy realizes that no matter what happens, Dan is and will always be her friend.
Arnold approaches the difficult world of middle-school with a light approach. Her story is an accurate profile for those who've forgotten what it's like at this age, how serious problems at this age can be, and how friendship can help. Dan Quixote questions the fairness of, "Bullying as a right of passage." We all know that if adults don't help young people, they'll feel powerless and possibly do something drastic. After all, democracy gives Americans the right to be who they are no matter what their age is. A delightful story. Important. Strongly recommended.
Sandy wants to get good grades, grow up and be a lawyer so that one day she can become a judge who can right wrongs taking on those who hurt others. But Sandy and Dan struggle to fit in and not be bullied.
Bullies are all around them, kids their own age, and adults as well. They are made fun of, pushed around, beaten up, and have lies spread about them in the attempt to ruin their reputations while the bully's followers laugh.
Dan is called the King of the Geeks. Sandy is called the Invisible Girl and is told that she doesn't actually exist. How can she not believe it?
With lessons learned from all they have read and have heard, these two friends research their enemies and learn their weaknesses as they try to change things for the better, not only for themselves, but for others around them. Will they find that they are not too small to make a difference? That the pen is mightier than the sword or would the gleaming sword swing down and smash the pen as you might think?
With Dan Quixote Boy of Nuevo Jersey author Shevi Arnold gives her young readers essential lessons for life and brings new interest to some very important literary classics.
Author J.D. Holiday
The American eighth grade hero Dan Quixote faces his own modern windmills, bullies in the person of a Queen Bee named Jade and her popularity wannabees , and a teacher, who seems intent on flunking all those around her. His Sancho Panza sidekick is the more practical Sandra Day Goldberg, an aspiring lawyer, who remains his best friend even when he develops a crush on his own Dulcinea named Gwen.
Although the main characters and their behavior appeared somewhat as caricatures and a bit innocent by today's standards, and I would have liked to see more character development, especially on the part of the bully Jade, the main character Dan Tyler, whose Dad died tragically when Dan was still young, and his best friend Sandy, are highly likeable and the plot was surprising and well-presented. An explanation for the behavior of the tyrannical teacher, nicknamed the Dragon, was handled well. The bullies and their rule by fear were also realistically portrayed.
All in all, this book was a very entertaining and easy read, and although many students might need some background information, as the original novel itself is usually not taught until college, the book would make an excellent introduction to one of the most important Spanish classics.
Mary Lou Cassotto
School Librarian, and Past Vice-President of the Connecticut Association of School Librarians