All About Adolescent Literacy

All about adolescent literacy. Resources for parents and educators of kids in grades 4-12.
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A video interview with

Rodman Philbrick

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Rodman Philbrick was raised in New England — he was born in Boston in 1951 and grew up in a small town on the coast of New Hampshire, where his grandmother rented out cottages to summer visitors.

Philbrick started writing short stories in the 6th grade, but never told anyone in school that he was a writer because it didn't seem like something that would make him popular. He wrote lots of stories, all of which were rejected; the novel he wrote in the 11th grade. was also rejected. In fact, he wrote eight or ten novels before one was finally accepted.

Philbrick worked as a longshoreman and boat builder, while writing mystery and detective novels for adults. That all changed in 1992, when he stumbled on a story idea in his neighborhood. This idea became the award-winning young adult novel, Freak The Mighty. Philbrick's other young-adult books include The Young Man and the Sea, The Journal of Douglas Deeds, and The Last Book in the Universe. Whether futuristic or historical, all his stories include lots of action and adventures.

Philbrick — an avid fisherman — and his wife divide their time between Maine and the Florida Keys. When they're in Maine, Philbrick fishes for striped bass and bluefish. When he's in the Florida Keys, he fishes for a variety of species, including the giant tarpon.

Selected Books

from Rodman Philbrick

Freak the Mighty

Age Level: 9-12

They say opposites attract. That is very true in the case of Max and Kevin. Max, a self-described "butthead goon," is an extra large eighth grader labeled learning disabled. Kevin, known as Freak, is highly intelligent and suffers from a rare dwarfism syndrome. Literally put the two together — Freak rides on Max's shoulders — and you've got Freak the Mighty, brawn and brains out for adventure, fighting the good fight for good causes.

Buy Freak the Mighty

The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg

Age Level: 9-12

Homer Figg's tales of his adventures are only mostly true as sometimes he tends to exaggerate. But an awfully lot of interesting and unusual things do happen to him as he sets off to find his brother Harold who has been handed over to the Union Army by their rotten Uncle Squint.

Buy The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg

The Last Book in the Universe

Age Level: 9-12

Unless you are one of the genetically improved that are permitted to live in Eden, you live in the Urb, the ragged ruins of a once great city. Spaz lives there, surviving by stealing for the gang lead by Billy Bizmo. When Spaz is ordered to rob Ryter, he gets more than the old man's meager possessions — he finds a friend who is willing to help him help his dying sister.

Buy The Last Book in the Universe

The Young Man and the Sea

Age Level: 9-12

Small boy, small boat, big dreams, big fish. If twelve-year-old Skiff Beaman can hook a valuable bluefin tuna, he'll have the money to repair his father's fishing boat and get his family back on their feet-and not just financially. Depression over the death of Skiff's mother has left Skiff's father a couch-bound alcoholic. Skiff is determined to help his dad and honor the promise he made to his mother.

Buy The Young Man and the Sea

The Journal of Douglas Allen Deeds

Age Level: 9-12

A title in the Dear America historical fiction book series, The Journal of Douglas Allen Deeds tells the story of the doomed Donner Party expedition, as seen through the eyes of a fifteen-year-old orphan that survived the cold winter of starvation in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Buy The Journal of Douglas Allen Deeds