From first-time novelist Jordan Sonnenblick, a brave and beautiful story that will make readers laugh and break their hearts at the same time.Thirteen-year-old Steven has a totally normal life: he plays drums in the All-Star Jazz band, has a crush on the hottest girl in the school, and is constantly annoyed by his five-year-old brother, Jeffrey. But when Jeffrey is diagnosed with leukemia, Steven’s world is turned upside down. He is forced to deal with his brother’s illness and his parents’ attempts to keep the family in one piece. Salted with humor and peppered with devastating realities, DRUMS, GIRLS, AND DANGEROUS PIE is a heartwarming journey through a year in the life of a family in crisis.
- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: Scholastic Inc.; Reissue edition (April 29, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0545722861
- ISBN-13: 978-0545722865
- Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 0.7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
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.
*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
Kirkus 9/1/05 DRUMS, GIRLS AND DANGEROUS PIE Author: Sonnenblick, JordanReview Date: SEPTEMBER 01, 2005 Publisher:Scholastic Pages: 288 Price (hardback): $16.99 Publication Date: 9/1/2005 0:00:00 ISBN: 0-439-75519-0 ISBN (hardback): 0-439-75519-0 Category: CHILDREN’S First-time author Sonnenblick has pulled off a rare feat. Not only did he make this story about a 13-year-old boy, whose little brother contracts leukemia, real and raw and heart-rending, he made it hysterically funny as well. Steven Alper, who is untalented in sports but terrific on the drums, is giving his pesky five-year-old brother Jeffrey oatmeal when Jeffrey, who has been complaining recently that his “parts hurt,” falls off a stool and gets a nosebleed that just won’t quit. That night Steven finds out that Jeffrey has leukemia. Although the plot—Steven’s stressed-out family has no energy for him and he becomes a source of strength for his brother while simultaneously falling apart himself—is conventional, the subsidiary characters at home, school and the hospital have a flesh-and-blood reality and the situations ring true. Moreover, the reader falls in love with the brothers, laughing and crying by turns and rooting for both of them until it almost hurts. (Fiction. 12+)Booklist Starred Review 9/15/05 \\\\*STAR* Sonnenblick, Jordan. Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie. Sept. 2005. Scholastic, $16 (0-439-75519-0). Gr. 5–8.
Steven Alper is a typical eighth-grader––smarter than some, certainly a better drummer than most, but with the usual girl problems and family trials. Then, on October 7, his five-year-old brother Jeffery 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 to 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 that the one thing you can always change is yourself. ––Ilene Cooper Kliatt 9/1/05 SONNENBLICK, Jordan. Drums, girls & dangerous pie. Scholastic. 273p.
Steven is in the 8th grade; he’s a talented drummer who is part of an all-city jazz band, one of the youngest members. He’s got a crush on a beautiful girl, a math whiz; but another girl seems more interested in him. That’s the drums and girls part of the title. The “dangerous pie” is more difficult to explain, but it is something outrageous Steven’s little brother Jeffrey says. Jeffrey is a precocious kindergarten student, who drives Steven nuts, but Steven doesn’t realize at the beginning of the story just how important Jeffrey is in his life. Amidst the quite funny wisecracks and comments (Steven is considered a good musician with a wicked sense of humor) comes tragedy when Jeffrey is diagnosed with leukemia. Everything changes: to manage the cancer therapy, the mother has to quit her teaching job and thus the family income is cut in half; the father retreats into a non-communicative shell of grief; Steven is troubled and angry; little Jeffrey endures painful and nauseating treatments. Months later, everyone in the family is exhausted but learning to communicate, to pull …
About the Author
Jordan Sonnenblick is the author of the acclaimed teen novels Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie, Notes from the Midnight Driver, and Zen and the Art of Faking it. In addition to being a writer, he’s a middle-school English teacher and would never penalize one of his students for bringing an imaginary friend to school. Jordan lives in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, with his wife and their two children. If he’s ever had an imaginary friend, he’s not telling! You can visit him on the Web at www.jordansonnenblick.com.
More About the Author
Here’s my bio from the paperback version of _Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie_:”Jordan Sonnenblick attended amazing schools in New York City. Then he went to an incredible Ivy League university and studied very, very hard there. However, due to his careful and well-planned course selection strategies, he emerged in 1991 with a fancy-looking diploma and a breathtaking lack of real-world skills or employability.Thank goodness for Teach for America, a program which takes new college graduates, puts them through ‘teacher boot camp’, and places them in teaching positions at schools in teacher shortage areas around the country. Through TFA, Mr. Sonnenblick found his place in the grown-up world, teaching adolescents about the wonders and joys, the truth and beauty, of literature. Mr. Sonnenblick always wanted to be a writer, too, so one day in 2003 he started in on the book that became Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie. This book was inspired by several aspects of the author’s real life: like Steven, the main character in the novel, he really plays the drums, he really went through an incredibly awkward year when he was 13, and he really was completely spastic around girls until right around his 21st birthday. The made-up parts of the book are all reflections of the author’s basic philosophy, which is that the world is a tough place, so you’d better be kind and laugh a lot. Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie was published by Scholastic Press in 2005 to great acclaim, and was named to several Best of 2005 lists, including the ALA’s Teens’ Top Ten. In October 2006, Scholastic will release Mr. Sonnenblick’s second novel, Notes from the Midnight Driver, which is about drunk driving, lawn gnomes, divorced parents, a unique old man, and a beautiful girl with deadly hobbies.