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Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie Paperback – September 1, 2006

4.8 out of 5 stars 289 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 6-9–On stage for his eighth-grade graduation, Steven recalls the past school year during which his five-year-old brother, Jeffrey, was diagnosed with and treated for leukemia. Steven is an avid drummer, journal writer, and generally a good student. But the pressures of dealing with Jeff's illness stresses his entire family as his school-teacher mom takes a leave to care for him, Dad withdraws, and Steven stops doing homework. Renee Albert is the object of his lust, while Annette, the piano player in jazz band, gradually becomes beautiful in his eyes. Steven's frequent faux pas seem belabored early in the book, but they do eventually work to show him to be an admirable fellow who grows in his ability to deal with others, including Renee and Annette, the school counselor, his parents, and Jeff. The book does not miss a single emotional beat, taking every opportunity to demonstrate that Lurlene McDaniel has no stranglehold on jerking tears as Steven details the progress of leukemia's inexorable attack. If the young characters sometimes speak beyond their years and if Steven's wise-ass voice is initially annoying, it is also fresh, energetic, and consistent, becoming more likable as the novel progresses. One stylistic device seemed unnecessary and distracting: characters' speech is indicated by italics, while quotation marks are used to set off Steven's inner thoughts and for special emphasis.–Joel Shoemaker, Southeast Junior High School, Iowa City, IA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Gr. 5-8. Steven Alper is a typical eighth-grader--smarter than some, a better drummer than most, but with the usual girl problems and family trials. Then, on October 7, his five-year-old brother, Jeffrey, falls, has a nosebleed that doesn't stop, and is diagnosed with leukemia. All hell breaks loose. Mrs. Alper's days and nights revolve around getting Jeffrey to his chemotherapy treatments, and Mr. Alper retreats into a shell, coming out only occasionally to weep over the mounting medical bills. Steven becomes the forgotten son, who throws himself into drumming, even as he quits doing his homework and tries to keep his friends from finding out about Jeffrey's illness. A story that could have morphed into melodrama is saved by reality, rawness, and the wit Sonnenblick infuses into Steven's first-person voice. The recriminations, cares, and nightmares that come with a cancer diagnosis are all here, underscored by vomiting, white blood cell counts, and chemotherapy ports. Yet, this is also about regrouping, solidarity, love, and hope. Most important for a middle-grade audience, Sonneblick shows that even in the midst of tragedy, life goes on, love can flower, and the one thing you can always change is yourself. Ilene Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 273 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Paperbacks; 53276th edition (September 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0439755204
  • ISBN-13: 978-0439755207
  • Product Dimensions: 7.1 x 5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (289 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #598,487 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Stefanie Lueck on August 25, 2009
Format: Paperback
I love this book. Sonnenblick tells a heartbreaking story, so heartfelt, with ease and humor that you must fall in love with the hero and everybody around him. The hero, Steven a normal teenager with a big passion and talent for drums basically thinks of his drum playing and the hottest girl in his class, who doesn't care about him. His world turns upside down when his little brother Jeffry gets cancer. First, Steven, whose parents give most of their attention to Jeffry now, dives into self pity. But very soon discovers that his brother needs him and taking care about his brother and family brings a new possibility in Steven's life. In the face of all possible Drama he discovers a sense of humour, well-being and the magic life has.

This is what I love most about the book, Sonnenblick is showing a way to have magic in our lives, even when the circumstances are challenging. And the story is just breathtaking, you won't want to stop reading.

2 other books I highly recommend to everyone who is looking for more magic in their life, whether your life is already good or you face some challenges of your own are: "Being Here: Modern Day Tales of Enlightenment" and "Working on Yourself Doesn't Work: The 3 Simple Ideas That Will Instantaneously Transform Your Life" by Ariel and Shya Kane. The authors found a way of living and share it in their books, that opens possibilities to have a fulfilling and magical live regardless of the circumstances you live in. Both books are written so heartfelt and with humor it's treat to read, also they are very practical and useful in day to day life.
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Format: Hardcover
DRUMS, GIRLS & DANGEROUS PIE starts out breezily enough. Told in the sarcasm-laced voice of 13-year-old Steven, the novel describes his various adolescent trials and tribulations, all of which are familiar yet still cringe-worthy --- he has a crush on the hottest girl in school, has an angelic-looking yet demonic little brother named Jeffrey, and his parents irk and annoy him constantly. With a droll and ironic tone, teacher and first-time novelist Jordan Sonnenblick paints Steven both convincingly and with enough color to make him an amusing and compelling narrator. Readers will be ready and willing to let Steven narrate the woes of adolescence for 273 pages, without expecting anything more or less from the novel.

Steven's story takes a sharp turn, however, into potentially over-dramatic emotional ground when Jeffrey's nosebleeds turn out to be an indicator of something serious. Yet Sonnenblick handles Steven and his family's reactions to Jeffrey's diagnosis and the onslaught of his illness with an admirable balance of humor and compassion. Jeffrey's initial question to his mother after they return from the hospital in Philadelphia is, "So Mom, everything's OK right? This whole cancer mistake is sorted out?" And Sonnenblick's treatment of the different reactions of Jeffrey's parents --- Steven describes his mother as "weepy" and his father as "a zombie" --- is both nuanced and realistic. Steven has to break his parents' emotional states into simple, one-word summations, because he fears grappling with the extent of what they're going through and why; by acknowledging the complexity of their anguish, he must acknowledge the fact that his brother might die.
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Format: Paperback
You know those books you don't want to take out of your hands and you search for words to describe what you liked about it...Well this is one of them. This book, written from the point of view of a thirteen year old boy, who sees himself confronted with the fact that his five year old brother has cancer. It's straightforward, with no exaggeration. A work, full of wisdom that shows how we much too often think about things we can't change instead of seeing what we can.

Another book that opens the door to seeing other possibilities one can choose in life isWorking on Yourself Doesn't Work: The 3 Simple Ideas That Will Instantaneously Transform Your Life

Give yourself the gift of both these books!
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Format: Hardcover
I picked this book up yesterday, read the inside flap about the author being a middle school English teacher and was sold. I hadn't read the other flap, the one at the front that gives a summary of the book, so I was truly surprised while reading. I started reading after I put the kids down and couldn't stop-read it in one sitting it was THAT compelling.

Sonnenblick manages to create Steven Alper, an eighth grade boy who is thrown into the utter despair of dealing with his brother's Leukemia. But what's so fresh about it is that Steven is still forced to face the trials and turbulence of teen-hood despite the fact that his family life as he knows it has taken a turn for the worst. Steven's dimensional thoughts run the true gamut, from grief to illusions of grandeur.

I think what's so important about this book (speaking as a former eighth grade English teacher) is that although it appeals to teens and adults alike, it is a perfect read for a middle schooler. Sonnenblick obviously listens to his students, is keyed in to what makes a middle schooler different from a high schooler. He knows the voice and in Steven has created a character that embodies the thoughts and mixed emotions of a boy who is teetering between boyhood and young adulthood-in Steven you see the true metamorphosis.

I would be remiss not to mention the music in this book. Steven's life-line and main coping mechanism is his involvement with his drums. Sonnenblick provides the reader with a virtual soundtrack. One can hear Steven at his drum pad and drum set and catch the beat of the bass drum and the ding of the cymbals. I couldn't help but think it nothing shy of brilliant for Sonnenblick to plant mentors like Dizzi Gillespie and Dave Brubeck in his book as parallels to Steven himself.
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