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Home > Reading Comprehension > book reviews > Space Station Seventh Grade

Book Review: Space Station Seventh Grade by Jerry Spinelli

Title, Author & Publisher:Space Station Seventh Grade by Jerry Spinelli

Length: 232 pages, no illustratoins

Print size: medium

Other readability issues -Important for this book: The interest level and short chapters of this book make up for a lot of problems a book of this length has. Spinelli's Maniac Magee won a Newbery Award, but poses some real challenges to some LD kids because of the way it wanders from reality to fantasy without warning (some kids have no problem with this). Space Station, on the other hand, is very down to earth with a very linear plot. It is a first person story, and this 'first person' is at a stage of life where he's making lots of generalizations about the world & people around him, figuring things out from his personal perspective, so while it stays fairly concrete it lends itself to writing or discussing more abstract ideas. The book is described as "achingly honest," "the funniest, truest and best book about turning into a teenager..." and those are accurate -- I've never read anything else like it, laughed aloud often, just couldn't believe that many subjects were broached. My students hung on every word.

This is a good book for a "reluctant reader" with about fourth grade reading skills to read independently, with structured activities throughout the book. It would be possible for a student to enjoy the book even if chapters were skipped entirely (which can be good or bad :)).

"Maturity" issues: There were a few paragraphs that I arranged to be read during the "independent reading" time (we usually read aloud together for 10-15 minutes, with 5-10 minutes of independent silent reading). In one (and only one) chapter, he uses the s-word (8 times in the same short paragraph) -- but could easily be read aloud as one would on the radio. I also had the a boys-only class; I don't know if a co-ed class would have affected how much the kids enjoyed the book. An excerpt from gym class:

"'Five minutes!' the teacher called.
I put the towel down. The whole universe has eyes. It's like a million people are waiting hours just for me, and I finally come out onto a balcony and everybody is staring up because I don't have any clothes on. My butt felt like the Hindenburg and there was this elephant trunk hanging down in front of me. I was afraid to look down at it. One of the frosted windows was open and I could see this shiny silver airplane against the clear blue sky. I wondered if they could see me."

Summary: Jason starts Junior High -- learns about gym class, what the football team is really like, learns to avoid ninth graders, finds home remedies for zits...

Typical words: Typical multisyllable/irregular words - you may want to see how many of these words your students can identify before expecting them to read independently. The context makes the decoding easier because the setting and situations are familiar to most students.


























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