Wild Wheels By: Kyle Gulkiewich

Dear Mrs. H.,

This week I am reading one of the books in the Hardy Boys series called “Wild Wheels” written by Franklin W. Dixon. I chose this book because I like reading mystery novels, and because it involves motorcycles.

This story is about two brothers named Frank and Joe Hardy who are amateur detectives. They agree to help Lindsay, a new student at their school, with an investigation. Her dad has been asked by two different motorcycle companies to partner up with them to build and sell a classic motorcycle. Before he can choose which company to invest his money in, he needs to find out for sure which one of them can design and build the best prototype. Soon after Frank and Joe begin their investigation, a series of mysterious  events begin to occur. It looks like someone is out to ruin both of the motorcycle companies before they can finish their prototypes. Frank and Joe need to find out who is behind the strange events before it is too late.

Frank and Joe remind me a lot of my sister and me. Frank is an honour student and likes to think things through before acting. This is like my sister, Kirsten. Joe is more of an athlete, and he is impulsive and does things without thinking them through. He is more like me. I sometimes make quick decisions to do something without thinking about what the consequences might be. Just last week, I decided to bike over to a friend’s house without calling first. It is a pretty long way, and when I got there he wasn’t home. By the time I biked all the way back home, I was almost out of free time. Just like Frank and Joe, Kirsten and I are very close in age and we like to spend a lot of time together. Even though we sometimes argue, Kirsten and I are always there for each other. We both do our best to go to as many of each others events as possible to cheer each other on.

One thing I didn’t like about the story is that Frank and Joe are involved in so many dangerous situations, but they never end up with any serious injuries or consequences. For example, the two of them got involved in a horrible street fight with a nasty biker gang outside a bar late one night. Even though they were outnumbered, Frank and Joe are able to walk away with only minor injuries. Also, both of them have terrible motorcycle crashes but neither of them have to go to the hospital. Another time, they are in a high-speed motorcycle race and they are being shot at. Somehow, none of the bullets hit either one of them. It is not very believable that the two boys could be involved in so many dangerous situations, and never get seriously hurt.

Even though parts of the book are not very believable, I am still really enjoying reading it. I would recommend it to anyone who likes reading a good mystery book filled with lots and lots of action. This book would also make a great movie!

Sincerely,

Kyle Gulkiewich

The Contender

Dear Mrs. H,                                           

This week I am reading the novel “The  Contender” by Robert Lipsyte. I chose this book because I read the back cover of it, and it caught my interest right away.

The story takes place in Harlem, New York in the 1960’s. It is about two best friends named Alfred and James. Both of them have a lot of problems in their lives, but end up dealing with them in different ways. James gives up on his dreams and starts doing drugs and alcohol. He starts hanging out with the wrong people, and ends up leading a life of crime. Alfred decides not to hang out with James and his new friends. He makes the decision to improve himself and make a better life for himself.

I think I am most like the main character, Alfred. Even though he makes bad choices sometimes like trying drugs and alcohol, he truly regrets his mistakes and tries twice as hard to make up for them. This sounds a lot like me. Sometimes when I hang out with my friends, I make bad choices that I later regret. I try to learn from my mistakes and not repeat them. Alfred meets a boxing trainer named Mr. Donetilli who encourages him to get involved in boxing. Mr. Donetilli tells him “nothing in life is promised, there are no guarantees.” He is taught that raw talent alone isn’t enough to succeed at the sport. It takes a lot of hard work and determination as well. I have learned this in the sports I play, especially hockey. To develop my skills and improve my performance in games, I know I need to attend every practice and work hard at every drill. Sometimes, this means I have to sacrifice going to a movie with my friends or missing out on a birthday party because I have to go to practice. This is the choice I have to make, because I have made a commitment to myself and my team to be the best I can be.

I noticed that the author likes to include a lot of slang expressions like “squeeze the eagle” and “showed some dog” in the story. These expressions were probably popular in the 1960’s, but I have never heard most of them before. I find it a little hard sometimes to understand what some the expressions mean.

One thing I would ask the author is if he grew up in Harlem during this time, and if the book is written about himself or someone he knew.

Even though this book has a lot of negative topics in it like drug abuse and violence, I am enjoying reading it. I think the message of the book is that not everyone can be a champion, but we can all be contenders.

The Dead Lifeguard

Dear Mrs. H.,

This week I am reading the novel “The Dead Lifeguard” by R.L. Stine. I chose this book because I usually read books about sports, and I wanted to try a different  genre. I found this one on our bookshelf at home, and it looked like it would be interesting.

This is a murder mystery book. Right from the first chapter, I found it very exciting. The story is about a group of lifeguards who think they have a perfect summer job because they get to suntan all day and party all night. They have heard rumors that the Beach Club is haunted, but they don’t care. Suddenly the lifeguards start to disappear and die horrible deaths. In a way, I can relate to the carefree attitude of the lifeguards. There have been several times when my mom has warned me about something being too dangerous, and I have ignored her. Just a few weeks ago my mom told me it was too dark outside to be running around with my friends, but I didn’t listen to her. I ended up tripping off the edge of the sidewalk because I couldn’t see it, and I scraped up my chin, hands, and knees.

The place I like to read the most is in my bedroom. One of the reasons I like to read here is because I can shut my door and block out the noises from the rest of the house. I can prop up the pillows on my bed and stretch out underneath my Oilers blanket. Once in a while my cat will lay on my bed with me, and I will read out loud to her. Sometimes I like to have a snack while I am reading, but I have to be careful not be make too much of a mess with the food in my room. Usually, I just eat a bowl of dry Fruit Loops or some crackers. Then to wash it down, I either have a juice box or sometimes a can of ice-cold pop.

I think I am most like the character Danny. He is more of a leader than a follower. He likes to take charge and make his own decisions. In the novel, he refers to himself as the “big enchilada” and the “big cheese.” Even though I don’t try to be a leader all the time. Sometimes when I am with my friends, I end up making decisions for all of us because nobody else will. For example, if we want to play a game of soccer and nobody wants to decide how to divide up the teams or set out the rules, I will step up and make these decisions so that we don’t end up wasting all our time.

The author has written this story in an unusual way. Each chapter in the book is written from a different character’s point of view. I like this because I get to learn a lot about each of the characters, and see how they react to the same situations.

One thing I learned about writing from the author is how using colors to describe things helps the reader visualize what he is writing about. A few examples that this author used are “green as seaweed, midnight black clouds, autumn leaf orange, ghostly white skin, and pink as a setting sun.”

I noticed that the author likes to keep the reader guessing all the way through the book. He puts lots of twists in the plot. Just when you think you have figured out who the murderer is, you find out you were wrong.

I am really enjoying reading this novel, and I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a story filled with suspense!

Making the Cut By: David Skuy

Dear Mrs. H.,                                      

This week I am reading the book “Making the Cut” by David Skuy. This is one of the books in the Game Time series. I chose this book because you recommended it to me.

The story is about a grade nine student named Charlie Joyce who gets an invitation to attend the Youth Elite Hockey School for two weeks during summer holidays. It is a dream come true for him and he can’t wait to go.

Charlie is the main character in the story. I learned the most about him from how the author describes his reactions to different situations. For example, when the author writes “Charlie felt incredibly dorky following Jen”, “Charlie felt totally intimidated”, and “Charlie felt himself blush, and he slouched down in his seat”, I learned that even
though Charlie knew he was a great hockey player, he still felt just like any other normal teenager off the ice. I can relate to this because when I am in the middle of a hockey or basketball game, I don’t let my emotions get to me. Any other time, I can get embarrassed or intimidated just like everyone else.

This book reminds me of my own life. I have loved playing hockey since I was 4 years old. I remember when I got an invitation to attend the Foothills Elite AAA hockey tryouts. I was just as proud and excited as Charlie was. Just like him, I know that skill only takes you so far and that you need to work hard at every practice and every
drill to get better and keep up with the other players. Charlie is an example of this in the story during his fitness test. Even though his arms and chest were on fire and sweat was dripping down his face, Charlie forced himself up and willed himself to keep doing more and more push ups to get a better score. I do the exact same thing at my dryland training.

I learned from Charlie that when things go wrong instead of making excuses, it is better to find solutions. When Charlie’s elbow pad went missing from his hockey bag instead of missing his practice, he found a solution by taping a pair of old hockey socks to his elbows.

One thing I would like to ask the author is whether this story was based on his own experience at an elite hockey camp tryout. The way he describes the drills and activities at the camp makes it seem like he actually participated in the tryouts.

I am really enjoying this book so far, and can’t wait to see if Charlie makes it onto one of the teams in the final Challenge Game!

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