4/9/11 ** While at school in an apparently Central-American dictatorship, a boy is told to enter an essay contest on the topic of "What My Family Does at Night." The boy's response is shaped by the recent arrest of the father of one of his friends and his parents' actual activity of listening to a forbidden radio program. As the boy writes his essay, the reader is wondering if he is naive enough to write the truth and what the consequences will be. The book opens with a description of the boy's interest in soccer, setting him up as a 'typical kid,' perhaps setting the hook which could draw in many young readers.
As a teacher, I could see this book prompting an interesting discussion about the efficacy of lying and about the power of writing to make a difference in the world.
3/31/11 ** First heard of this book when someone on CCBC described it and wondered if anyone knew the title.
3/31/11 ** Apparently the main character lives in Central America and becomes involved in an essay contest which turns out to be rigged - really intended to get kids to spy on their parents for the dictator. The boy figures out how to protect his family - talk about a critical issues book!
Rather than ordering from the library, I've ordered from Amazon - used (new copies start at $35!)