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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

REVIEW: Prisoner in Alcatraz, by Theresa Breslin

Prisoner in Alcatraz

It is your right to have: food, clothing, shelter and medical attention. Anything else you get is a privilege.

Welcome to Alcatraz, the most notorious prison in America.

Marty is a young, simple man who dreams of growing tomatoes in the warm sun of Mexico. But he gets himself into a bit of trouble when he agrees to help out a friend and ends up in the hardest prison in America: Alcatraz. Marty is sentenced to life, and nobody ever get’s out of Alcatraz. But now there’s a new escape plan – and Marty is the only one that can make it happen. Will Marty break out of Alcatraz – or will life mean life? 

***Note from the publisher:

Please note that Stoke Books are created specifically for reluctant or dyslexic readers. The books are short and action-packed with compelling narratives. This book is aimed at kids aged 14 and up with a 4th grade reading level

I had to read this book twice through. I think that, for me, it just moved way too quickly, and left some significant holes in the story. It felt choppy, like it was originally written as a much longer book, but because it was needed in a reluctant reader market, the author cut it down. WAY down. I just worry that it's going to have too many holes to not confuse a reluctant reader. There's also the issue of when this story takes place. Because I'm an avid reader and notice the language queues that give a sense of when something happens, I get that part of the setting. A reluctant reader won't, and some of the language will wind up being confusing.

That being said...there are some positives. It was easy to keep up with the basic premise (even with the holes in the story). You could easily tell what was going on with Marty, and pull a lesson from his situation.

I think it's this story is a step in the right direction, but I think there's just too much choppiness, leaving a lot to be desired for this educator who works with reluctant readers. Writing high interest-low reading level (Hi-Lo books) is more than just adjusting vocabulary and structure. It still requires crafting a smooth story line.

What do you think??

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this ebook galley from Stoke Books through the netGalley publisher/reader connection program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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