March 9, 2009
The third installment in Meg Cabot‘s new series comes out today! Luckily for me, last month I won an ARC for Allie Finkle’s Rules for Girls: Best Friends and Drama Queens and got to read it early (and then got to have it autographed by Meg when I met her at her signing at Anderson’s Bookshop and the Children’s Literature Breakfast).
I quickly read the first two, Moving Day and The New Girl, and loved them both. After reading Best Friends and Drama Queens, I concluded that it’s even better. In this one, a new girl from Canada comes to Allie’s new school and disrupts everything by chasing boys at recess. Pretty soon she has declared Allie and her friends immature for not wanting to “go with” boys. Allie tries her best to handle the mean things Cheyenne says, but suddenly it seems too much to take.
Allie is a fantastic character. She’s so full of spunk and independence and throughout all three books, she writes down rules to help her get through everything. Some of my favorites: Don’t stick a spatula down your best friend’s throat, Just because something is popular doesn’t mean it’s good, Treat your friends the way you’d want them to treat you, and It’s impolite not to bump someone’s fist when they are fist-bumping you.
I highly recommend the series, especially for fans of Judy Moody, Ivy and Bean, or Clementine! Allie definitely belongs in their “Spunky Girls” club!
February 5, 2009
Have you ever seen that episode of The Cosby Show where Theo is convinced that his math teacher, Mrs. Westlake, is out to get him? The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt is a little like that, only better! It’s a Newbery Honor book from 2008. I loved it, and I highly recommend it!
Holling Hoodhood is a seventh-grader in 1967/1968. The setting has some effect on the story, but readers won’t be overwhelmed by people and facts. Reading The Wednesday Wars would be a great way to get introduced to the Vietnam War and the turbulent times of the ’60s. Holling’s older sister supports Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy, and their dad (who made me furious most of the time) watches the news every night, which often reports on President Johnson and Vietnam.
Each chapter in the book covers a month of Holling’s year in school, and each month something happens either at school or at home. The story is very episodic, which reminded me of Huckleberry Finn. There are a lot of great characters in the book, including Holling and his teacher Mrs. Baker, and they encounter several funny, frightening, and heartbreaking things throughout the book. Definitely a must-read!
January 3, 2009
In this book by Gary Paulsen, Molly, a sixth grader, has a seemingly bad day. She’s lost her notebook, which she cannot live without because it keeps her life in order; her eccentric grandmother is coming to school with her; she gets a black eye before school; etc. Molly’s grandmother is very popular and wins over everyone at school, much to Molly’s horror. She would must rather have her head buried in her lost notebook and let school continue the way it usually does where she is basically left alone except for the Marys, her three closest friends.
Molly endures a lot during her day, so it’s not hard to see why she’d be in a bad mood. BUT she never started with a good one. She sees the negative in everything. She knows her grandmother’s coming to school is going to be a disaster, she doesn’t want to get to know the detention kids her grandmother befriends, and she would rather learn about the US government than about how government and baseball compare. Eventually, though, after speaking with her grandmother, she quickly (perhaps too quickly?) realizes her bad day was actually really good. We’re left assuming Molly will be less uptight from now on.
You may have done a double take when you saw the author was Gary Paulsen. I did. He has a forward at the beginning of the book explaining that most of his books have had boys as main characters, but since half of all stories come from girls, this story is about a girl. Because this note was at the beginning, I couldn’t help but look for instances where Molly’s perspective didn’t seem very girl-like. I would have prefered the note at the end, where it wouldn’t have distracted me from the story.
December 24, 2008
So far in Sara Pennypacker’s Clementine series there are three books: Clementine, The Talented Clementine, and Clementine’s Letter. I wasn’t that crazy about Clementine, but I have thoroughly enjoyed The Talented Clementine, which I read a few days ago, and Clementine’s Letter, which I finished tonight. She is a clever, spunky, young girl, who cannot help getting into all kinds of trouble, even though most of the time her intentions are good. The books are very funny with the various situations Clementine gets herself into. In the latest, she has trouble at school adjusting to a substitute teacher and the idea that her regular teacher may not be there for the rest of the year.
One of the best parts of the whole series is the various nicknames Clementine uses for her baby brother. Since she was given a food name, she thinks her brother should have one too. Every time she refers to him, she has a new vegetable nickname: Squash, Water Chestnut, Spinach, Scallion, Bok Choy, Cabbage, Broccoli, etc. I’m not sure his real name is ever used in any of the books. That’s just a taste of how amusing these books are. I highly recommend them especially to fans of Judy Moody by Megan McDonald, another great middle reader series.
July 7, 2008
I had been looking forward to reading this book by Jeff Kinney for awhile because I knew it would be a quick read. It was. I started and finished in about an hour. It’s written in the style of a “JOURNAL, not a diary.” I loved the cartoons depicting various situations. The story tells of middle schooler Greg Heffley’s year and the various problems he has, such as with friends, bullies, bad Christmas gifts, etc. As I read though, I really started to dislike Greg. He’s a jerk to his “best friend” Rowley…he’s bossy and eternally ashamed of him. I know Diary of a Wimpy Kid is really popular, so I’m interested to find out if anyone else had any problems with the “hero” of the story. Other than that, I thought it was a fun read. The cartoons are great. I may read the next one since it goes so quickly.