Sunday, May 22, 2016

Brand new middle grade fiction

New books!  New books!  New books!  It's so exciting to get new books!  I just got a big box of new books for our library!  I don't even remember how I chose them, but here are some of my new favorites.

The first one is called "My life in pictures" by Deborah Zemke.  It's a short chapter book about a charming girl named Bea (short for Beatriz).  Bea likes to draw and has a very annoying little brother that she calls "The Big Pest".  She has a best friend who lives next door named Yvonne and they have marvelous adventures together until Yvonne moves away to Australia.  A new family moves in and guess what?  They have a child the same age as Bea!  Except he is a monster.  Bea draws to work her way through this problem and it has a great ending.  This one would pair up well with "Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie " by Julie Sternberg-it has the same short chapter format, as well as a similar art and writing style.  The kids are going to like this one.

This one is so new it's not even published yet!  I read it as an advanced readers copy through Netgalley.  a lovely fairytale called "The Changelings" by Christina Soontornvat.  It's her first book and after reading this one, I'm sure it won't be the last, because it was great.  It's about a girl named Izzy who's family has just moved to a very small town.  They have inherited her grandmother's house but Izzy misses her friends and her old home.  She's also completely exasperated with her little sister, Hen, who is always up to something annoying.  They have been warned to stay away from their neighbor because she is a witch, and the girls, who love fairy tales, start looking for clues.  The neighbor catches them and it turns out she's not really a witch, but she does love to garden and seems nice. Then one day, Hen disappears and Izzy sets out to find her.  The neighbor turns out to be more help that Izzy would have imagined because Hen has been captured by Good Peter and taken to Netherbee Hall, a transition point between the human world and faerie world.  I really liked this story a lot.  There are very interesting characters, some great plot twists and a good mystery.  This will be a great addition to our fantasy unit in the upper grades.

This last one has been getting a lot of buzz in the blogs I read.  It's called "The Wild Robot" by Peter Brown.  I finished it yesterday and usually I can't wait to run to my computer and write about a book, but this one felt like I needed a bit more time to process.  It's about a robot who is being shipped across an ocean along with 5 other robots.  The ship encounters a hurricane and the robots are thrown off the ship and end up on a island.  The other 5 robots are destroyed, but one of them arrives intact on an island.  The robot is meant to adapt to it's surroundings so it looks around and starts moving.  The animals it encounters think it is a monster and flee.  As it's trying to figure out what to do, it accidentally destroys a goose nest, killing the parents and all of the goslings except one.  The robot then tries to save the baby.  It turns out the robot is good at taking care of things so the baby thrives and the robot integrates into the animal community.  The art work is all in black and white.  It's very futuristic and modern.  The ending was surprising enough to me that I won't tell you about it but I didn't really love this one.  The writing felt very straight and hard edged to me (and maybe that was purposeful, to sound like a robot).  I also kept getting distracted by what felt like exceptions to the rules-the robot is not programmed to have feelings, but it worried and seemed to feel affection for the baby goose.  It did make me think a lot about what it might look like in the future if there were robots that could do multiple tasks for humans what that might look like and some of the ideas presented felt big but I just didn't really like it.  And I suppose that's part of the beauty of books-even if you don't love this one, there's another one out there waiting.  I'll be interested to see how my kids like this one.  

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