Friday, October 9, 2009

Dairy Queen. By Catherine Murdock

Title: Dairy Queen
By: Catherine Murdock
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Date: May 22, 2006
ISBN: 0618683070

Critical Analysis:

Catherine Murdock wrote a fascinating story about a girl named DJ Schwenk and her quest to become a football player on her school team. DJ has to overcome positive and negative obstacles while working on the family dairy farm, living in dysfunctional family relationships, loving Brian Nelson (an opposing school quarterback), passing English and worrying about being accepted by her peers when they find out she wants to be on the football team.

While reading this story you will connect with DJ and the sports theme will keep you reading, especially if you like football. The story has a great mix of humorous and serious storylines that will keep you engaged. Amy Pickett from Ridley High School commented on the humorous behaviors that DJ’s character provided by concluding, “D.J.'s tongue-tied nature and self-deprecating inner monologues contribute to the novel's many belly laughs. At the end, though, it is the protagonist's heart that will win readers over” (School Library Journal, vol 52, issue 4, p145).

The setting of this story takes place in a small rural town in Wisconsin which makes the story have a realistic feel and the literary style of the first person narrative through DJ Schwenk was very easy to follow and helped in the character connection process. Jennifer Hubert wrote, “This humorous, romantic romp excels at revealing a situation seldom explored in YA novels, and it will quickly find its place alongside equally well-written stories set in rural areas” (Booklist, vol 102, number 15, p36). This story is not only believable but is refreshing due to the lack of the “girly-girl” nature. Readers will be able to not only connect with the characters in the story but find the read enjoyable!

Review Excerpts:
Horn Book (The Horn Book Guide, Fall 2006):

"Coaching the rival high school's quarterback in a summer fitness program, farmgirl D.J. realizes she's attracted to Brian; winning a place as a defensive linebacker for her own school, D.J. realizes she'll face Brian on the field. D.J.'s practical, understatedly humorous voice drives this memoir of her fifteenth summer--an engrossing tale of love, family, and football. Category: Older Fiction. 2006, Houghton, 278pp, 16.00. Ages 12 to 14. Rating: 2: Superior, well above average" Retrieved from the Children's Literature Database (Accessed October 10, 2009).

Megan Callahan (The ALAN Review, Spring/Summer 2007 (Vol. 34, No. 3)):

"D.J. Schwenk has always done as she’s told. When her older brothers left home after a family fight, she let it happen. When her father had surgery, she took over the family farm. And when Brian Nelson, quarterback of Red Bend’s rival football team, begins working at her farm . . . she falls in love. When Brian first shows up at Schwenk Farm, D.J. is disgusted, but as the two work together, they confide in each other. Soon, they become much more than friends; however, D.J. strains her new relationship with Brian, and with her family, when she makes the Red Bend football team. Readers will fall in love with D.J.’s humor and will relate well to her emotional epiphanies. While initially slow-paced, the story becomes quite interesting as it progresses. For those who think that small-town life is dull, Dairy Queen will offer a new perspective. Category: Family/Romance. YA--Young Adult. 2006, Houghton Mifflin, 275 pp., $16.00. Ages young adult.Bartlett, IL" Retrieved from the Children's Literature Database (Accessed on October 10, 2009).


Pennslyania Young Reader's Choice Award, 2008.

Great Lakes Great Book Awards, 2007.

Borders Original Voices Award, 2006.


I found a nice group of discussion questions from the Manitowoc Public Library. You may access these questions by clicking on: (accessed on October 10, 2009).

Other books that may be of interest:

The Off Season, by Catherine Murdock, Publisher: Houghton Mifflin, Date: 2007, ISBN: 9780618686957.

Amazing Grace, by Megan Shull, Publisher: Hyperion, Date: 2005, ISBN: 9780786856909.

Playing with the Boys: a pretty tough novel, by Liz Tigelaar, Publisher: Razorbill, Date: 2008, ISBN: 9781595141132.

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