Friday, January 15, 2010

A "nook" review of Getting Air

Gutman, Dan. 2007. Getting Air. New York: Simon and Schuster.

I finally received my "nook," and checked out my first book, Dan Gutman's, Getting Air.  This book is several years old but I had three reasons for choosing it.

1. It caused some controversy in my library system, with some librarians thinking it should have been classified as a young adult (YA) title
2. Because it's an older title, it was cheaper! (As a librarian, I'm not used to paying to read books)
3. I was hoping that the choice of a survival story combined with the coolness factor of my new nook would entice my son to read it (no luck there)

In any case, this is my first "nook review."  As for the nook itself, I've read its pros and cons, its comparisons to Kindle, and its possible negative impact on libraries. Here's my quick take on it:
My initial reaction is that using an e-reader takes a little getting used to.  The fact that your physical interaction with the words takes place on a touch screen separated from those words is, at first, a bit disorienting.  The ability to choose font type and size is great.  The interactive dictionary is cumbersome, but less so than getting up and going to the bookshelf for the Merriam Webster.  Yes, the page turns a bit slowly (more so than the Kindle?), but not nearly as slow as the three seconds that I've read in various posts. It's too soon to see how the e-readers will affect libraries.  There are many free books available - mostly the same titles that one would find at Project Gutenberg - classics and older texts out of copyright protection.  The nook allows for uploading of these types of books and also, if I can believe the blogosphere, books can be downloaded from some public library sites for checkout.  My library, offers access to e-books via NetLibrary, but for viewing only, not downloading.  I will continue looking into the possibility of free library content on the nook.  The Kindle, which has fewer free books available and no library compatibility, at least makes them (the free books) easier to locate.  For me, the best features of an e-reader are
  • the ability to tote around literally hundreds of Harry Potter-sized books in my purse
  • owning a book that opens up to the page where I left off
  • the ability to make notes and highlights that don't ruin the book
  • the, at least perceived idea, that e-books might be good for the environment (do e-readers create toxic waste? I don't know)
  • and the changeable font size is pretty cool as well
Now for the book!  (spoiler alert)
Getting Air is the story of three 7th grade boys on their way to a skateboarding convention. The main character is the good-natured, Jimmy, who is accompanied by his younger sister, Julia, as well as his two friends. The plane is hijacked by religious radicals and they find themselves crashed in a remote Canadian forest with a female flight attendant, and an elderly woman knitter.

While it is mostly a book about the boys, girls should enjoy it as well. The younger sister, Julia, age 11, turns out to be the most resourceful of the bunch, due largely in part to her reading habit and many years in Girl Scouting. Getting Air touches on serious topics - religion, fanaticism, hijacking - and contains some grim content - murder and death - but yet, Dan Gutman manages to handle the topic with his customary light hand and touch of humor. (The boys use the plane's outer shell as a "half pipe" course)

The story may not be completely convincing, but it should appeal to young boys in particular.  The suggested ages for this book are 9-12, however, parents and librarians should use discretion in suggesting this title for young readers. I would offer this book to readers in 6th grade and up.

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