My Two Cents: This book is a beautiful combination of humor and heart, one that literally made me laugh and cry. Steven is such a believable and endearing main character. Readers will sympathize with him and care about him and, ultimately, grow with him. Steven's family and friends are all well-drawn, and each makes their own mistakes and plays a touching role in the overall story. This is a great book for boys (and girls), for musicians (and non-musicians), for any kid who likes to laugh and wants to care.
Grade Level: 4-7
- Jordan Sonnenblick's website, including a curriculum guide for this book
- Learn basic drum techniques with these video tutorials from an expert
- Listen to some of the music from the book, like Cubana Be, Cubana Bop and Jump Jive an' Wail
- When Steven wants to avoid thinking about something, he does a complex math problem in his head. Work through some complex math problems in your head! You can start with these.
- Do your own fundraiser for a family in need, or for cancer research or a local children's hospital. There are ideas here and here to get you started.
- Another (YA) story where the family is dealing with a younger sibling's health problem: Just One Wish by Jeanette Rallison
- Another kid who finds inner strength to save a member of his family with a little help from his friends: Geeks, Girls, and Secret Identities by Mike Jung
- Another book with a big brother who learns a lot from eventually looks up to a formerly-annoying little sibling: Smiles to Go by Jerry Spinelli