Sunday, September 12, 2010

RULES TO ROCK BY by Josh Farrar

Playing bass guitar with the kid rock band Egg Mountain is all Annabelle "Belle" wants to do.  They have become quite a sensation in New York.  Being the kid of two famous indie rock musicians has given her a chance to learn and play with some of the best.  Everything in Belle's life is about to change.

Belle's parents are knee-deep in recording a new album, and they've decided they need to get away from all the distractions of the big city.  They are moving Belle and her little brother Xavier to Providence, Rhode Island.  Belle can't believe she'll have to leave behind her band and her Abuela (grandmother) to live in a music studio where her parents will be busy every minute and she'll have no privacy at all.

The living conditions are bad enough, but it's even worse when Belle discovers how horrible Federal Hill Middle School is.  The very first day she encounters one of the school's many bullies.  They seem to take a special pleasure in shaking down the smaller kids for their lunch money.  The only bright light in her terrible first days is Mr. V and his English class.  With his help she might be able to master the art of song writing.

Things are a mess at home.  Belle is constantly left with the job of babysitting her brother while their parents work on the new album.  Thanks to the group's drummer who fixes chocolate chip pancakes at least four nights a week, they don't starve, but it's beyond ridiculous, and Belle has had it.  All she wants is some time alone so she can work on getting a new band together.

With encouragement from her old band mate Ronaldo, Belle plugs away at trying to find other musicians in her new school.  She discovers a guitar player with some promise, but he only agrees to practice not actually perform.  With his help they find a keyboard player nicknamed Crackers who not only plays well but also has a terrific voice.  Now all that's left is a drummer, but finding someone may be more of a challenge than Belle wants.

RULES TO ROCK BY is the story of drive and determination.  Author Josh Farrar introduces readers to Belle whose love of music pushes her to accomplish her dream.  Farrar creates countless obstacles for Belle, but she tackles them all.  Middle grade readers will enjoy the rock and roll backdrop and the relatable characters Farrar uses to make RULES TO ROCK BY an entertaining read.

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