Infiltaration by Sean Rodman is one of the books I picked up at ALA in Anaheim. As I was walking through the exhibit hall I was attracted to the Orca soundings booth by a large sign advertising “Teen fiction for reluctant readers.” My sister works for a a high school that has a large number of students who cannot read at grade level. I know she works closely with her school’s librarian and I got very excited about the book offerings and wanted to look for some books she could keep in her classroom for her kids and for some literature to pass on to the librarian so she could add books to the library. One of the Orca representatives was kind enough to give me a copy of Infiltration to read and pass onto my sister for her students.
Orca sounding provides young adult books that are aimed at teenagers but are at a grade school reading level. They have a great selection teachers’ guides on their website and each title includes the reading level (though this is a Canadian publisher and I think the grades are a year ahead? behind? what the US grade level is). I did not see the Spanish books at the exhibitor booth but they have some Spanish titles listed in the website. How exciting is that? I know I’m going to have to look at a few of those when I finally start taking Spanish. When I took French in high school our choices were Le petit prince and Petit Nicholas. It would be much more appealing to have a contemporary character to entice me into second-language reading or improving my skills.
Bex likes to break into abandoned buildings and other urban architecture and post pictures of his daring endeavors on the internet. He connects with other “urban exploration” enthusiasts but for the most part his preferred companions are his girlfriend, Asha and his best friend Jake. Their adventures, while not exactly legal do not destroy any property and so there is little conflict. However, when new boy Kieran finds out Bex’s online identity, he enlists Bex to help him break into his father’s workplace. Bex needs agrees in exchange for money, which he thinks help him in his relationship with Asha.
The break in scenes are well paced and vivid. The plot moves quickly, I can see where this would be an appealing read for a teenager. There were some hints at a good b-story with Bex trying to interrupt his jealousies and insecurities of Asha’s summer job and preparations for college. Kieran has a complex relationship with his father that could have been explored in greater detail. I understand some of these details had to be sacrificed to keep the book short and at a low grade level but at 130 page I think an additional 10-20 could be added to flesh out some of the sub-plots instead of ending abruptly with no resolution. Bex’s approach to relationships and his worldview seem convincing for such a short novel; this would be a good addition to any classroom with struggling readers. The contemporary characters, fast paced adventure story and age-appropriate protagonist will help them develop an enjoyment of reading at their current reading level.