Part of me wants to hate Anita Silvey, because she has books like 500 Great Books for Teens (which make me bristle for undetermined reasons) and is a self-proclaimed "Children's and Young Adult Book Expert". Then again, part of me adores her because of her article in the fall Has the Newbery Lost Its Way? Today, having read her book about the women who fought in the Civil War, I'll stick with adoring her. It was informative AND fun. The woman knows her stuff. I've put two of her books on reserve at the public library.
I'll Pass For Your Comrade: Women Soldiers in the Civil War was perfect nonfiction for middle school. Just 100 pages, nicely illustrated, with interesting facts on nearly every page. I quoted half of it to my children while I was reading it. The research had to have been difficult, because of the very nature of women serving in the army-- they had to hide their gender. The lengths to which some of the women went to serve was amazing. The details are quite rich, and even boys who are interested in the Civil War can be persuaded to check this one out because of the descriptions of daily life. Since this is part of our 8th grade curriculum, this is on the very top of my purchase list!
I'm going to pass on Mechling's Dream Girl even though I really enjoyed it. Claire Voyante (Really? What's with all the strange names recently?), whose father is French and whose mother is fairly flaky, has to deal with not only a new school but strange dreams that are made worse when her grandmother gives her a cameo. Perhaps this would be better for high school-- nothing objectionable, it just had a slow, deliberate pace that tends to frustrate middle school students. That, and there's something that disturbs me about the cover.
Got through my final Rosemary Sutcliffe, The Sword and the Circle: King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. I thought that it would be one to keep, given the subject matter, but it was incredibly dense. I can understand why no one has checked it out in twenty years. It's off to a better place.