5:05-5:35 a.m.: Rinaldi. My Vicksburg. Claire Louise's family was going to ride out the seige of Vicksburg at her grandparent's in the country, but came back to live in a cave to be near the cat. The oldest boy, Landon, has joined the Union army as a doctor, and the father, also a doctor, is most displeased. The father goes off to help the Confederate army, and Landon ends up back at Vicksburg with an injured solider who is responsible for a lost message. Claire helps the soldier escape. There is an interesting subplot about Landon's fiance fighting for the Confederates as a man, but a lot about how Claire tried to win her father's approval that was sort of boring. My daughter's name is Claire Louisa! 150 pages. Probably will buy.
5:36-6:40: Magoon. The Rock and the River. Set in 1968 Chicago. Sam and Steve's father is working with Martin Luther King, Jr. in peaceful protests. As Steve sees the amount of injustice that blacks are experiencing, he decides to forego peaceful measures and joins the Black Panthers. Sam also starts to think this is the way to go after MLK is killed and Sam's father is also shot. This is an interesting description of the race relation problems during this time, and NOT told from the point of view of a white, middle class, Southern teenaged girl. It is a bit long and involved for middle school, so I'll have to think about it. 290 pages.
6:41-7:15: Chaltas. Because I Am Furniture. This is a heavy duty problem novel about abuse and incest, but very delicately done. It didn't even annoy me that it was done in "verse", which explains how the 352 pages went so quickly. Anke's father abuses her brother and sister, and while she is glad to escape this abuse, she also feels unloved because her siblings get some kind of attention. When she joins the volleyball team, she starts to chafe against her family life, and longs to tell someone. When her father attacks a friend, she finds the inner strength to confront her father and improve her family's life. Obviously for mature audiences, but surprisingly has only one f-bomb. Very well done.
7:16-8:30: Cross. Dull Boy. Again, the difference between the character development in fiction for high school and middle school comes up. Avery has had an unremarkable life, but has started to get in trouble because he can't control his increasing strength that manifests itself when he is afraid. He can also fly. He is approached by a woman named Cherchette, who wants him to leave his family to study how to use his powers with her, but he is apprehensive. He also meets other students with powers; Darla, who is trying to gather them together; Sophie, whose skin becomes sticky when she is afraid; Jacques, Cherchette's son who knows the horrible secret of why they all have their powers; and Nicholas, who can absorb things into a vortex.There is a lot of action and adventure, but there is also a lot about fitting in and discovering one's true self. I think there will be a sequel. I'm not sure about this one for middle school, due to the introspection. (308 pages)
8:31-9:15: Tacang. The Model President. BIG disappointment. The cover looks very similar to the Candy Apple Scholastic books, which are not hugely great literature but which are nicely done and vastly appealing to girls, Miss Reluctant Reader among them. This, however, was just weird. The plot also sounds like a Candy Apple book: "Junior inventor Millicent Madding is running for 6th grade class president against the most popular and trendy girl in the school." Okay. It's a little annoying when the election devolves into a "fashion walk-off", but what irritated me was all the purposelessly wacky details: Millie's parents have disappeared into a time machine. The head of the local "Pretty Liddy" school used to be a bearded lady. The uncle orders Lasagna Brittle ice cream. There are names like Heinrich Putzkammer and Paisley Slub. I got a hardcover copy at a "book look", but may not put it into the collection because I can see girls checking it out and returning it with their noses wrinkled up.
9:16-10:00: Philbrick. The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg. Also a "book look" copy, and suspect from the start. Horrible cover, and I'm not a huge fan of Freak the Mighty. This was one of those gently wacky Civil War books where the young boys wander about and get in various scrapes with evil but goofy outlaws. How many of those have I just deaccessioned? I found it nearly impossible to pay close attention after a Quaker man used "thee" as a nominative repeatedly. If you pay that little attention to grammatical detail, can the history be right? And I don't think I'm wrong. According to Curme's English Grammar, the subject form is "thou", the possessive is "thy" or "thine", and the rest of the oblique cases are "thee". (I give it to thee, I see thee, I walk with thee). Sigh. (217 pages)
10:01-12:20. Clayton. The Roar. Ah, now THIS was good. If you have students who liked The Hunger Games or Grant's Gone, definitely get a copy of this hefty tome (480 pages). It managed to very nicely sneak in character development in between pod fighter chases and evil henchmen. Most of all, I really like Mika, the main character. After the disappearance and assumed death of his twin sister Ellie, Mika has had trouble coping. Ever since the horrible Animal Plagues that forced the population of the world into cramped living quarters behind The Wall, people who aren't rich live in tiny, damp, moldy apartments, and the students especially have grim lives. When the Youth Development Team comes in and tries to get Mika to drink his Fit Mix, he rebels because he still believes Ellie is alive, and has a bad feeling about the attempts to get mutatnt students to take various potions and practice video games. This one really kept my attention. Mal Gorman was a great evil character, the book got off to a superb start, and the plot twists kept me turning the pages. Sure to be a sequel, and I will be anxious to read it.
So far 12 books; 3,156 pages; and we'll make it an even 14 hours, although I will probably check some blogs to see what others are up to!