Sunday, February 7, 2010

Dairy Queen, by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

Dairy Queen, by Catherine Gilbert Murdock. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2006. ISBN-10: 0618683070; ISBN-13: 978-0618683079. 288 p.

Plot Summary
DJ is from a football-playing family. Her older brothers were stars on the Red Bend High School football team, and her dad played football in college until he busted his hip and had to move back to the family farm. So when Brian Nelson, the quarterback of Red Bend's rival team, comes to train with her and help her with the farm, she's not too happy. But as she and Brian work together, she learns more than just football--she learns how to talk about her feelings.

Critical Evaluation
DJ's authentic midwestern voice draws you into this story about football, friends, and family. Every page is laugh-out-loud funny, and as the reader, you can't wait to get to the next page.

Reader’s Annotation
DJ runs her family's dairy farm, plays football with her friends, and manages to go to school at the same time. But one thing she can't do? Talk to people about her feelings. When Brian Nelson comes to help out at the farm, he helps her learn to be comfortable talking about herself. Too comfortable. Doesn't she know Brian is out of her league?

Author Information
Catherine Gilbert Murdock grew up in small-town Connecticut, on a tiny farm with lots of honeybees and only two TV channels. Her sister is the famous memoirist Elizabeth Gilbert (who wrote the book Eat, Pray, Love). She attended Bryn Mawr College and the University of Pennsylvania. She now lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, two children, and Sparky the cat. (Info from here and here). Her website is

Catherine came up with the idea for this story in a dream. She says, "it always sounds goofy, but I really did have a dream about a girl playing college football against a boy she loves passionately. When I woke up, my first thought was "What an amazing premise for a story!" Followed by "Babe, you don't know one thing about football." But that kernel stayed with me, just kept growing in me for days, as I thought about it and worked it --- dream or no, the story idea was just a lump, and I had to do a lot of shaping." The story is wonderful, and her shaping worked out!

Realistic fiction, sports fiction

Curriculum Ties
Sociology: Communication skills, family issues

Booktalking Ideas
A girl playing football with the boys' team? While she also runs the family farm? Would you like to know DJ and get to know why she does the things she does?

Reading Level/Interest Age
Grades 7-12.
ATOS Book Level: 5.3

Challenge Issues

I included this book because it was selected as a 2007 Best Book for Young Adults by YALSA.


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