by Judy Newman with Alexie Basil
I am writing this post just before the clocks are scheduled to spring ahead one hour for daylight saving time.
When I was a kid, we sprung ahead later in the season—usually at the end of April—so the time change and the extra hour of daylight meant that summer vacation was really almost here. (It also meant that we could go out to play after dinner—usually wearing just a light jacket because it was warm outside—which was the ultimate freedom!)
But it is 2020, and in this already super-rushed and frantic year, we are leaping ahead in early March—eight weeks earlier than when I was a child.
(If I had more time, I would do some research on the history of daylight saving time and why we pushed it earlier in the season. But since I’ve already lost an hour and I have so much to read and write today, I’ll save that research for another day, when I have a little more breathing room!)
All next week, I will feel the effects of the time change: I’ll be a little late for my meetings and appointments. I’ll wake up an hour earlier in the morning (another to-be-scheduled research project: I am fascinated by circadian rhythms!).
And while some of my clocks automatically adjust to the new time, I still have some old-school timepieces—such as the “There’s Always Time to Read!” clock in my Scholastic office—that have to be manually reset.
So, for me, in the short run, daylight saving time steals an hour from an already packed day. Like all self-respecting book lovers, teachers, parents, and librarians—and anyone who spends most of their waking hours trying to find ways to get all kids excited about books and reading—I will lose an hour I could have spent reading some of the amazing new books from my huge and ever-growing pile.
You see it on tote bags everywhere—and it is so true: SO MANY BOOKS, SO LITTLE TIME!
Amid all this literary backlog, it is almost inconceivable that I would be able to reread a book. But our Scholastic Book Clubs blog is the one project for which I take the time to reread—and re-enjoy and reexperience and re-think about—books that I have already read, often when they were first published.
Such is the case with this week’s beloved and widely read Book of the Week, Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick. Freak the Mighty was first published in 1993—my first year at Scholastic (we moved the clocks forward on April 4 and back on October 31 that year).
Freak the Mighty was published officially in October 1993, when it received incredible critical acclaim and was an instant teacher and student favorite. I was lucky—a real perk of working at Scholastic!—to get a prepublication bound galley to read, so I knew early on about Kevin and Max’s thrilling, inspiring, moving, and unforgettable friendship story.
Today, in 2020, 27 years later—even coping with a day shortened by daylight saving time—I was just as thrilled, moved, and inspired when I reread—yes, reread!—Freak the Mighty so we could offer it as this week’s Scholastic Book Clubs Book of the Week.
“A wonderful story of triumph over imperfection, shame, and loss.” —School Library Journal (starred review)
“Max’s description of their friendship…is gritty, unsentimental, sparked with Freak’s wry verbal wit and Max’s earthier humor, and ultimately poignant. Easily read but compelling: an intriguing and unusual story.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Awards: School Library Journal Best Book for Young Adults, YALSA Best Book for Young Adults, YALSA Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, IRA Young Adults’ Choices Book, and more!
Freak the Mighty is a modern classic that stars two remarkably different boys. Max (or Max the Mighty) is a big, strong kid who has a learning disability. Kevin (or Freak, as he’s called) is a brilliant kid with a physical disability that makes him small and limits his mobility.
After an encounter with a bully, Kevin climbs onto Max’s shoulders, and together they become Freak the Mighty—and a friendship is born.
David Vozar and I never literally stand on each other’s shoulders, but we have worked together at Scholastic Book Clubs for decades and have the same kind of mutually supportive partnership and friendship as Kevin and Max.
Inspired by his own rereading of Freak the Mighty, David created this comic about others who have influenced his own life:
To support you and your students as you enjoy Freak the Mighty, we put together some engaging resources and activities for you to use in your classroom:
• WATCH the Book Boys’ action-packed book-trivia game show to inspire some good-natured literary competition in your classroom.
• DISCOVER how literacy coach Dr. Tracy Zambelli uses Freak the Mighty to help her students practice tracking themes and character development in Book Talks.
• READ an exclusive interview with Rodman Philbrick to learn what inspired his beloved characters in Behind the Scenes.
• ENCOURAGE your students to create their own personal dictionaries (inspired by Kevin’s) with a fun, free classroom activity in Cooked Up from a Book.
What did you and your students think of Freak the Mighty? As always, I’d love to hear from you. Please email me your thoughts about Freak the Mighty, or books you love to reread—or how you feel about daylight saving time—at: JNBlog@scholastic.com
I truly love to hear from you. Happy reading!
This Book Is Available from Scholastic Book Clubs